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The Notion of Originality and Degrees of Faithfulness in Translating Classical Chinese: Comparing Translations of the Liezi

Li, Xiaofan Amy (2015) The Notion of Originality and Degrees of Faithfulness in Translating Classical Chinese: Comparing Translations of the Liezi. Early China, 38 . pp. 109-128. ISSN 0362-5028. (doi:10.1017/eac.2015.2) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:59261)

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This article compares several post-1950s translations of the Liezi, and examines the concept of originality, the degrees of closeness to the original text a modern translation can achieve, and how this “faithfulness” can be understood. I first discuss how the problem of the Liezi's originality has negatively influenced critics' and translators' perception of the text's significance, then compare its different translations to show their specific translational and interpretational problems. Finally, I reflect on the overarching methodological question that frames my comparisons of translations, namely, why compare? I argue that comparing translations cannot be a means to ascertain the best translation, because both concepts of originality and faithfulness are multiple in meaning rather than singularly defined. Instead of measuring translations in terms of “fidelity,” a more insightful practice would be discovering the insights different translations offer into the relationships between the original and translated texts, source and target languages, as well as questioning the construction of texts as “original source texts” through translation by recognizing the potential fluidity and multiplicity of the source text itself.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/eac.2015.2
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PJ Oriental philology and literature
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN851 Comparative Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Xiaofan Amy Li
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2016 23:55 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 11:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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