Advertisement

Neohelicon

pp 1–15 | Cite as

Lost in translation: the motif of cannibalism as reconstructed in the English translations of a Chinese classical novel

  • Yunhong WangEmail author
Article
  • 52 Downloads

Abstract

Many studies have been conducted in the investigation of narration in the field of translation, but most of these mainly focus on the agent and the way of narrating. In a different vein, the present paper explores the other side, i.e., the narrated aspect, or what is to be narrated. It centres on the issue of motif reconstruction in the three full English translations of a Chinese classical novel Shuihu ZhuanAll Men Are Brothers (1933) by Pearl S. Buck, Outlaws of the Marsh (1980) by Sidney Shapiro and The Marshes of Mount Liang (1994–2002) by John and Alex Dent-Young. A description of how the motif of cannibalism is presented in each translation will be given based on a parallel corpus of 189 clauses. The discussion of motif belongs to the range of the “narrated,” which is believed to be not only more transposable, but also more translatable than discourse. Despite this translatability, however, the findings reported in the present study reflect that certain motifs of Shuihu Zhuan may be changed or even lost in the translating process. The study of motif reconstruction in translation may very well help to call translation scholars’ attention to the macrostructural level of the text by focusing on “unusualness factors” that are activated and deactivated through mediation of translators.

Keywords

Motif reconstruction Shuihu Zhuan Translation strategy Cannibalism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges support from Guangzhou Philosophy and Social Science Planning Foundation (广州市哲学社会科学规划课题) [Grant No. 2017GZYB80] and Guangzhou Yangcheng Young Scholars Project (羊城青年学人资助研究项目) [Grant No. 18QNXR57].

References

  1. Alvstad, C., & Alexandra, A. R. (2015). Voice in retranslation: An overview and some trends. Target, 27(1), 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Assis Rosa, A. (2013). The power of voice in translated fiction or, following a linguistic track in descriptive translation studies. In C. Way, et al. (Eds.), Tracks and treks in translation studies (pp. 223–246). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boase-Beier, J. (2006). Stylistic approaches to translation. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Bosseaux, C. (2007). How does it feel?—point of view in translation. Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  5. Bremond, C., et al. (Eds.). (1995). Thematics: New approaches. Albany NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  6. Buck, P. S. (trans). (1933). All men are brothers. New York: John Day.Google Scholar
  7. Conn, P. J. (1996). Buck: A cultural biography. Cambridge: Cambridge England & New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daemmrich, H. S., & Daemmrich, I. (1987). Themes and motifs in Western literature: A handbook. Tübingen: Francke.Google Scholar
  9. Dent-Young, J. & Dent-Young, A. (trans). (2010). The marshes of Mount Liang. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.Google Scholar
  10. Foer, F. (2014). Insurrections of the mind: 100 years of politics and culture in America. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  11. Hermans, T. (1996). The translator’s voice in translated narrative. Target, 8(1), 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hsia, C. T. (1984). The classic Chinese novel: A critical introduction. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kinkley, J. C. (2004). A bibliographic survey of publications on Chinese literature in translation from 1949-1999. In P. Y. Chi & D. W. Wang (Eds.), Chinese literature in the second half of a modern century: A critical survey (pp. 239–286). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Lefevere, A. (1992). Translation, rewriting and the manipulation of literary fame. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Li, H. R. (2001). The phenomenon of cannibalism through Tang to Song. Journal of Northwest China Normal University, 1, 23–30.Google Scholar
  16. Li, Z. K. (2009). Shuihu Zhuan De Yehua Xushi Xingtai Jiqi Wenhua Yiyun [The narrative style of “actions in the night” and its cultural implication in Shuihu Zhuan]. Nankai Journal, 1, 35–44.Google Scholar
  17. McCarthy, J. A. (1995). Madness, hysteria and mastery. In F. Trommler (Ed.), Thematics reconsidered: Essays in honor of Horst S. Daemmrich (pp. 121–141). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  18. Ni, X. H. (2012). A survey of the English translations published by the Foreign Languages Press of China during 1966–1976. Chinese Translators Journal, 5, 25–30.Google Scholar
  19. O’Sullivan, E. (2003). Narratology meets translation studies, or, the voice of the translator in children’s literature. Meta, 48(2), 197–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Prince, G. (2003). A dictionary of narratology. Lincoln, London: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  21. Prince, G. (2014). Narratology and translation. Language and Literature, 23(1), 23–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Qi, Y. K. (2011). On the blooding violence in Shuihu Zhuan. Journal of Ming-Qing Fiction Studies, 2, 82–93.Google Scholar
  23. Shapiro, S. (1980). Outlaws of the marsh. Beijing: Foreign Language Press.Google Scholar
  24. Shapiro, S. (2000). I chose China: The metamorphosis of a country and a man. New York: Hippocrene Books.Google Scholar
  25. Shi, N. A., & Jin, S. T. (2011). Shuihu Zhuan—Jin Shengtan’s edition. Hunan: Yuelu Publishing House.Google Scholar
  26. Shi, X., et al. (Eds.). (2005). Read the cultural other: Forms of otherness in the discourses of Hong Kong’s decolonization. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  27. Sun, S. Y. (2012). Shuihu Zhuan: Zenyang de qiangdao shu [Shuihu Zhuan—an outlaw story]. Shanghai: Shanghai Rarebooks Publishing House.Google Scholar
  28. Toury, G. (2012). Descriptive translation studies and beyond. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. van Leuven-Zwart, K. M. (1989). Translation and original: Similarities and dissimilarities I. Target, 1(2), 151–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang, Y. H. (2016). A study of three English translations of Shuihu Zhuan. Ph.D. diss., Hong Kong Polytechnic University.Google Scholar
  31. Wang, L., & Liu, C. (2010). Female revenge in Shuihu Zhuan and the motifs in Buddhist stories. Journal of Shanxi University, 33(5), 21–26.Google Scholar
  32. Wolf, M. (2007). Introduction—the emergence of a sociology of translation. In M. Wolf & A. Fukari (Eds.), Constructing a sociology of translation (pp. 1–38). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wolpers, T. (1995). Motif and theme. In F. Trommler (Ed.), Thematics reconsidered: essays in honor of Horst S. Daemmrich (pp. 32–46). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  34. Woodsworth, J. (2000). Translation in North America. In P. France (Ed.), The Oxford guide to literature in English translation (pp. 81–89). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Yu, C. F. (2000). Kuan-yin: The Chinese transformation of Avalokitesvara. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Yu, G. F. (2001). Fanyi zhong de wenhua xianjing [Cultural issues in translation]. Journal of Xi’an Foreign Languages University, 1, 47–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Foreign StudiesJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations