Problematics of translation in Ha Jin's poetry: Poet, critic, translator

Joan Chiung Huei Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ha Jin's works bespeak an impressive linguistic creativity. Reconfìgurating Chinese language through a nativized discourse of English, Ha Jin has translated, appropriated, and reconstructed Chinese linguistic norms and specifics into English-language literature in remarkable fashion. Studying Ha Jin's Wreckage, a reader with Chinese education will be ready to identity fragments of renowned Chinese classical verse. Thus the reader is invited to ponder: To what extent does Ha Jin draw his poetic inspiration from the corpus of Chinese literature? How shall we measure accredited creativity? How do we distinguish innovation from renovation, and do those distinctions change our reading of the poems? Although Ha Jin has written exclusively of the reality of Chinese politics and society (with A Free Life the only exception so far), this material does not obviate the possibility of reading his works as belonging to a tradition of US immigrant literature. In Ha Jin's poetry, the juxtaposition, interaction and fusion of classical Chinese verse and contemporary American sensibility can be telling. Which has been translated, the Chinese verse or the American sensibility? What has been transplanted and translated? Have the Chinese poetry texts, after being transplanted into the English verse, undergone a transformation of meaning and resurfaced with new significance corresponding to the complexity of Ha Jin's immigrant experiences in America? This paper aims to explore how Ha Jin's Chinese poetry texts show significance corresponding to the complexity of his immigrant experiences in America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-103
Number of pages23
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec


  • Ha Jin
  • Jacques Derrick
  • Language
  • Translation
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Wreckage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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