AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Rewriting in Literary Translation: The Case of Howard Goldblatt's Translations of Contemporary Chinese Fiction

by Lin Zeng

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: contemporary; fiction; literary; translation
Record ID: 1317252
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5086


This study investigates literary translation as an act of rewriting. In particular, my research looks into the translation of contemporary Chinese fiction from the perspective of André Lefevere’s rewriting theory that was formulated to explain the rewriting phenomenon in literary translation. In this dissertation, I raise a question regarding Lefevere’s central hypothesis that ascribes rewriting in literary translation mainly to ideological constraints. While numerous case studies of translations have confirmed the rewriting act that translators perform in literary translation, the extent to which the ideological factor plays a role in literary translation is still a question. My reading of English translations of contemporary Chinese fiction suggests causes and motivations that are more complex than what Lefevere’s hypothesis has predicted, and from here, this dissertation approaches the theoretical subject by a comparative analysis of Howard Goldblatt’s English translations of contemporary Chinese fiction in an effort to illuminate the factors and constraints behind rewriting in literary translation. The present study provides an integration of linguistic, corpus-guided, and stylistic approaches when considering the case of Goldblatt’s translations. By conducting a comparative analysis of works by writers such as Mo Yan, Su Tong, Liu Heng, Zhang Jie, Hong Ying, Jiang Rong, and Li Yung-p’ing, and their English renditions, this dissertation closely examines the key factors that cause rewriting in the case of literary translation from Chinese into English, namely, linguistic, stylistic, and ideological factors. Based on this case analysis examining key factors both separately in various source texts and target texts, and jointly in individual works and translations, my dissertation argues that rewriting in literary translation from Chinese into English involves a complex multiplicity of factors that have shaped Chinese literature and its reception in the English-speaking world, and that the commonly acknowledged ideological factor is not necessarily the overriding influence as hypothesized by Lefevere. Instead, the linguistic/cultural and stylistic barriers between two disparate languages such as Chinese and English are as or more important, confronting translators of Chinese fiction and causing rewriting in the English translations. My study also leads me to propose that the ideological factor be studied along with the translator’s subjectivity, a concept that can arguably include not only the translator’s ideological stance, but also his/her aesthetic tendencies, particular perspectives, and idiosyncrasies, which, as revealed in this dissertation, play no small part in the rewritings present in Goldblatt’s translations.