Papers on Modern Literature VIII

Translations
Thursday
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room D

  • Joscha Chung, “Soong Tsung-faung’s Translation of Hermann Sudermann’s Teja
  • Tianyun Hua, “Contemporary Intercultural Theatre between Orientalism and Occidentalism: An Example of Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Theatrical Adaptation of Lu Xun’s Forging the Swords
  • Marco Lovisetto, “Exploring the Attachment to Tradition through Intertextuality: The Translation of Su Xuelin’s Autobiographical Jixin
  • Aleksei Rodionov, “Changing Priorities and Emerging Factors: On Recent Translation of Contemporary Chinese Prose into Russian Language”

Joscha Chung, “Soong Tsung-faung’s Translation of Hermann Sudermann’s Teja

This paper focuses on the introduction and translation of the German playwright Hermann Sudermann’s dramatic works in the May Fourth period. Although some efforts were paid earlier to translate Sudermann’s novel, it was not until 1918 and 1919 when his name received serious attention in China through Soong Tsung-faung (or Song Chunfang in today’s spelling), who was probably the most important promoters of modern Western drama during that time.
Prof. Soong of the Government University of Peking has been well known for his compiling of a list of one hundred modern plays for interested Chinese translators to consider. It is a much less discussed matter that he managed to translate a few of the listed plays, including Teja, Sudermann’s three one-act plays in the collection called Morituri (1896).
The absence of Teja in Soong’s three volumes of On Theatre (1923, 1936, and 1937) lead to little scholarship on this early Chinese translation of Sudermann’s drama. The fact that Soong’s translation was published in The Renaissance (or Xinchao), a leading journal edited by members of the Government University of Peking, enabled its wide circulation among participants and followers of the New Culture Movement. On the other hand, Soong’s choice to translate the play’s realistic dialogues into classical Chinese clearly contradicted the journal’s cultural standpoint. By presenting both circumstantial and textual evidence, this paper demonstrates that Soong’s choice of language was in fact influenced by Sudermann’s English translator.

Tianyun Hua, “Contemporary Intercultural Theatre between Orientalism and Occidentalism: An Example of Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Theatrical Adaptation of Lu Xun’s Forging the Swords

With the deepened mutual cultural communication, it is no more the case of one-way Orientalism or Occidentalism. This paper will demonstrate a more interwoven relationship using the example of Polish director Grzegorz Jarzyna’s theatrical adaptation of Chinese writer Lu Xun’s Forging the Swords: the director combines the Chinese story and western philosophy to reinterpret and fit the story into a contemporary social context, while the play is performed by an international team, and is accepted and commented by the Chinese audience. Through a detailed analysis of the stage language used by Jarzyna compared with Lu Xun’s story, including the representation of “man and superman” and “eternal recurrence”, and the futuristic visual style applied, the paper wants to contend the harsh critiques received by the play and argues that it is a meaningful adaptation which not only provides a brand-new angle to reinterpret the story but also uses both the western and eastern recourses of thoughts to reflect critically on the contemporary situation. Through this example, this paper intends to show the potential of the contemporary intercultural theatre to be a platform beyond one-way Orientalism or Occidentalism but contains both sides, where world literary canons can get reinterpreted and responded to in a relevant context, and also wants to advocate a more open attitude instead of cultural nationalism to allow and accept such sharing.

Marco Lovisetto, “Exploring the Attachment to Tradition through Intertextuality: The Translation of Su Xuelin’s Autobiographical Jixin

This paper introduces the peculiar features of the translation process of Su Xuelin’s 苏雪林 Jixin 棘心, a co-translation project that aims to newly introduce one of Su’s masterpieces to English-speaking readers. A prominent intellectual figure of the May Fourth Movement, Su was initially considered one of five major female writers in China but was put aside due to her criticism of Lu Xun and departure from the Mainland. Along with her recent rehabilitation in the Mainland and her undeniable academic, didactic, and literary influence on Taiwan, Su’s literary heritage is worth studying and disseminating. In this paper, I will argue that the translation process of the novel reveals to the target reader the depiction of a pseudo-autobiographical character, Du Xingqiu, with distinctive features expressing some of the historical and social changes of modern China.
My analysis of the translation process will take into consideration three textual aspects: intertextuality, register, and narrative point of view. By focusing on significant examples of intertextuality encountered during the process of translating the novel, this paper demonstrates elements that characterise Su’s attachment to both Catholic and Confucian traditions. Additionally, a textual analysis of the changes between different registers and narrative points of view throughout the novel illustrates the variations of the author’s tone between narration, introspection, and evaluation. Throughout the paper, I will present an in-depth textual analysis of these passages and the translatological strategies that my co-translator and I have adopted in order to thoroughly understand and convey the implicit messages emitted by the source text.

Aleksei Rodionov, “Changing Priorities and Emerging Factors: On Recent Translation of Contemporary Chinese Prose into Russian Language”

Looking back to the history of Russian-Chinese literary communication we can see that translation of contemporary Chinese literature into the Russian language for a long time has been highly dependent on historical, political, and academic circumstances. The latest period of translations, which commenced in 2009, is driven by Chinese and Russian government support, as well as the influence of international literary prizes and the changing image of China, but at the same time is balanced by the book market and deacademisation of the translation process. By 2015 after several decades of domination of classical Chinese literature in Russian translations, the publication of contemporary Chinese literature caught up and in 2016 surpassed the number of classical literature editions.
In 2009–2018 there were 291 pieces of contemporary Chinese prose translated into Russian, which included 46 novels, 70 повестей, 137 short stories, and 38 essays. These were the works of 174 contemporary Chinese writers, among them those translated most often were Mo Yan, Liu Cixin, Bi Feiyu, Cao Wenxuan, Yu Hua, and Liu Zhenyun. This selection of writers shows a considerable shift from the previous period of 1992–2008, where the most popular authors were Wang Meng, Feng Jicai, Jia Pingwa, Zhang Jie, and Can Xue.
The paper is based on extensive statistics and discusses the tendencies of the recent translation of contemporary Chinese literature into the Russian language in wide context as well as its driving forces and key actors.

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Room D
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Translations