This proposed study will be a critique of Xiao Qian’s Chinese translation of Ulysses from the perspectives of James Joyce’s original intention and the translator’s own chosen translation strategies. Joyce’s intention is evident and well documented in his countless correspondences with contemporaneous writers, declarations and many writings by Joyce scholars such as Richard Ellman, as well as in his many extant notes and in how he revises his writings, oftentimes even meticulously adding alterations to galley proofs following last-minute inspirations. From all these, it can be seen how he insisted on his stream of consciousness and interior monologue modes. Xiao Qian, however, has turned a blind eye on this, but as we shall see below, he was more concerned about another type of context when he decidedly opts to jettison Joyce’s psychological modes altogether from his translation. Thus, while James Joyce writes Ulysses in the context of creating tension between creative syntax and expressive form, Xiao, in his turn, follows a more sociopolitical context, adopting instead a politically-correct, “non-bourgeois” colloquial format by decidedly doing away with the original stream of consciousness and monologue formats of the source text. Hans Vermeer writes that he translator is supposed to be an expert and it is up to him to decide what role a source text plays in his translational action. Scholars like Umberto Eco, Karen Lawrence and many others have always insisted that form far outweighs story in Ulysses. This adamancy on form at the expense of story actually also resonates well with the Skopos theory when Vermeer explains that it is likewise possible to consider “intertextual coherence” between target and source texts when called for. Yet, during the period of Xiao’s translation of the novel, China was still a hardcore police state and Xiao perhaps sensed the need to toe the official line. Vermeer writes that as translator, one must know what one is doing, and what the consequences of such actions are, e. g. what the effect of a text created in that way will be in the target culture. In times of official dislike for bourgeois Modernist styles, Xiao was obviously intimidated. Xiao’s alleged fears and anxieties could be gleaned from the timing of his translation strategy shift in the last episode: When the political situation eased up, Xiao and Wen boldly adopted the quaint format we now observe in their version of “Penelope.” The result is decidedly more Modernist, and sufficiently bolder, than his translation of the previous 17 episodes. It may therefore seem true that when an overall situation changes, skopos too tends to swing direction at will when called for by circumstances, and this could perhaps be the case of Xiao Qian and Wen Jieruo. This is something certainly worth looking into. This study will further explore Xiao and Wen’s version, with consideration of the background that affected Xiao’s strategy so as to better shed light on the sociopolitical circumstances that helped shape the translation of this important classic.
|Effective start/end date||2018/08/01 → 2019/07/31|
- James Joyce
- Xiao Qian and Wen Jieruo
- literary translation
- stream of consciousness
- translation strategy
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