Papers on Premodern Literature VIII

Translations
Friday
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room C

  • Lifei Pan, “A Travel through Time—The Eight Prerequisites and its Contemporary Version for Buddhist Text Translators”
  • Massimiliano Canale, “The Modern Re-Evaluation of the Chinese Song Lyric: The Importance of Judith Gautier’s Translations of Li Qingzhao”
  • Anna Di Toro, “The Scholars, Chronique indiscrète or Neoficial’naja istorija? The Challenge of Translating Rulin waishi for Western Audiences”
  • Lidiya Stezhenskaya, “Liu Xie’s Literary Mind Translations in European Languages”

Lifei Pan, “A Travel through Time—The Eight Prerequisites and its Contemporary Version for Buddhist Text Translators”

The eminent monk Yancong 彦琮 (557–610CE), a Buddhist text translator, who was well versed in both Chinese and Sanskrit, proposed in his treatise, Bianzheng lun 辩正论 (On the Right Way) the Eight Prerequisites for Translators of Buddhist texts. However, since these prerequisites were originally written in classical Chinese, scholars today have various explanations for their meaning. Meanwhile, prerequisites for Buddhist text translators exist not only in the first millennium of China, when the translation of Buddhist texts was at its heyday but also in contemporary Buddhist texts translation organisations, such as Buddhist Text Translation Society. It coincides that in this organisation there are Eight Regulations for its translators. Though not exactly the same, parts of the Eight Prerequisites and the Eight Regulations overlap with each other. This paper first tries to discern the meaning expressed in the Eight Prerequisites by Yancong, and then compares the Eight Prerequisites and the Eight Regulations to find out their similarities and differences, and analyse the reasons of the differences. As both are rules for Buddhist text translators, it is supposed that the contemporary Eight Regulations are the adapted version of the heritage of the ancient Eight Prerequisites, which further indicates that the discourses by ancient Chinese Buddhist text translators can still have their value in contemporary times.

Massimiliano Canale, “The Modern Re-Evaluation of the Chinese Song Lyric: The Importance of Judith Gautier’s Translations of Li Qingzhao”

This paper aims at analysing the importance of Judith Gautier’s translations of six-song lyrics by Li Qingzhao 李清照 (1084–1155?) in her second edition of Le livre de jade (1902), one of the earliest instances of ci 詞 lyrics being included in a successful collection of Chinese poetry in the West. Our main goal is to demonstrate how Gautier’s translations were a breakthrough in the Western reception of a genre like a song lyric, which had been traditionally disregarded by Confucian moralists in China and ignored by Christian missionaries in Europe, probably due to similar ethical concerns.
We will try to understand why this young Frenchwoman represented a new type of translator compared to the previous generations of missionaries and diplomats, focusing on their different attitudes towards the song lyric. In particular, we will reflect on her identity as a woman and as a member of the Parnassian movement, which held an aesthetic rather than utilitarian interest in Chinese literature. We will also examine the way Gautier approached the peculiarities of the Chinese song lyric in her translations. As a result of this study, we will draw some broader conclusions on the modern re-evaluation of traditionally despised Chinese literary genres during the first decades of the 20th century, both in China and the West.

Anna Di Toro, “The Scholars, Chronique indiscrète or Neoficial’naja istorija? The Challenge of Translating Rulin waishi for Western Audiences”

Lu Xun claimed that Rulin waishi 儒林外史, by Wu Jingzi 吳敬梓 (18th cent.), was the main Chinese novel of social satire, centred as it is on the merciless portrait of the moral decay of the mandarins. Many scholars, however, have questioned whether the novel should actually be read through the lens of satire, stressing the narratological operations made by the author and his idea of a reform of Confucian rites (Anderson 1997; Shang Wei 2003). As it happens in the Western tradition of satire (a miscellaneous form, from lanx satura, a dish filled with various firstlings), Wu Jingzi, in describing a human reality desperately corrupted by ethical blindness, displays many devices, moving from refined irony to grotesque.
Rulin waishi, one of the highest achievements of the ‘literati novel,’ was translated into some European languages between the 50s and the 70s of the last century (Li Hanqiu 2012). The aim of this contribution is to observe how the peculiar expression of humour in the Chinese text, rooted as it is in the highly ritualised codes of the literati, has been reproduced in the English, Russian, and French versions and which strategies were adopted by the translators in order to give a new life to 18th-century Chinese humour and satire.

Analysed Translations
Tchang Fou-jouei (transl.), Chronique indiscrète des Mandarins, Paris, Gallimard, 1976.
Voskresenskij Dimitrij N. (transl.), Neoficial’naja istorija konfuciancev, Moscow, Chudožestvennoj Literatury, 1959.
Yang Gladis, Yang Hsien-yi (transl.), The Scholars, Beijing, Foreign Language Press, 1957.

Lidiya Stezhenskaya, “Liu Xie’s Literary Mind Translations in European Languages”

Vincent Yu-chung Shih publication of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons (Wen xin diao long) in 1959 pioneered translation of Wen xin diao long into European languages. Within a historically short period of time in the 1990s and beginning of the 2000s, we obtained a number of translations of this medieval treatise in English, Italian, Spanish, German, Czech, French, and Russian (several chapters). These translations apply various strategies and declare different approaches to Liu Xie’s ideas and concepts. Although reverberations of the much more formidable and imposing studies of Liu Xie’s treatise in China could be easily traced in the European counterpart, the wide range of nations and variety of languages point out that European ‘dragon studies’ have made their way and got their foothold in Europe. It is a matter of fact that comparing with Modern Chinese translation any foreign language rendering from Classical Chinese would require much ‘narrower’ handling of the original text. This presentation will draw attention to some obscure or dubious passages in the treatise and propose their alternative translations.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room C
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Translations