The China which is here : translating classical Chinese poetry
Yung, Lawrence Kwan-chee (1998) The China which is here : translating classical Chinese poetry. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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The thesis proposes to address how the tradition of translating Chinese poetry
in the English speaking world developed in the early twentieth century and has
continued. Problems relating to this issue, such as the great change in poetics and
intellectual atmosphere since 1915 when Cathay appeared, its impact on the
translation of Chinese poetry, and the universe of discourse of the two cultures
involved, those of the Chinese and the English speaking world, as well as the
constraints of the target system on the translations, will also be discussed.
The introduction provides an overview of the poetics that valued traditional
metres at the turn of the century, and applies polysystem theory to explain the lack of
enthusiasm for translations of classical Chinese poetry before 1915. Chapter 2
discusses the constraints of language, the poetics and universe of discourse in the
target system, suggesting that these constraints handicapped the widespread transfer of
classical Chinese poetry before 1915.
Chapter 3 examines xing, the poetic device in Chinese poetry that emphasizes
the poet's spontaneous response to nature and the merging of scene and feeling. The
very nature of xing defies any attempt to make it explicit. The chapter is divided into
two parts, discussing xing in the encoding and decoding process respectively. Readerresponse
criticism and phenomenology are also incorporated in the discussions. The
chapter is followed by an analysis of various attempts to translate poems that are
presented with zing in Chapter 4, which shows that there is a tendency on the part of
some translators to add logical links between the scene and the feelings expressed.
Chapter 5 looks at the translation strategies of Arthur Waley, investigating
the traditions of translating classical Chinese poetry that he has helped to build up.
The kind of smooth grammatical lines he uses and the Chineseness he conveys have
had great influence on subsequent translators. Chapter 6 studies Ezra Pound, with
special focus on his innovative work Cathay, and his juxtaposition techniques.
Chapter 7 studies Kenneth Rexroth's translations of Du Fu, while Chapter 8
examines Gary Snyder's translations of Cold Mountain. The vehicle of translating
Chinese poetry in general-- language and poetics-- was close to that of modern
poetry in the target culture.
Chapter 9, the conclusion, asserts that various strategies are adopted for
various purposes. It tries to place the position of the translators discussed in a
polysystem context. In the target system, poems are appreciated more for their charm
than their being supposedly faithful to an original. The image of China created
through translators remains distant. To the reader in the West, China is always far out
"there," not here.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Chinese poetry -- Translations into English -- History and criticism, Chinese language -- Writing -- Xing style|
|Official Date:||May 1998|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies|
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