Martial arts fiction : translational migrations east and west
This thesis was motivated by Robert Chard's puzzlement over the translational phenomenon of martial arts fiction in the West. It proposes to address how the translational migration of martial arts fiction took place, first to other Asian countries in the 1920's, but to the West only after a lapse of a few decades beginning in the early 1990's. Adopting a descriptive approach as described by Gideon Toury, the thesis is intended to add further to the limited inventory of case studies in urgent demand to test the polysystem theory propounded by Even-Zohar. The thesis is made up of two parts. Part I is a macro-level study of martial arts fiction, intended to contribute to testing the limits of the polysystem theory. After examining Chinese fiction as a low form in the Chinese literary polysystem and its weak function as translated literature in the Western literary polysystem, the study explores the translational phenomenon of martial arts fiction in the West as well as the concurrent phenomenon as to why so little of martial arts fiction has been translated into Western languages, compared to the copious amount into other Asian languages, to the extent of stimulating a new literary genre or (re)writing martial arts fiction in indigenous languages in Indonesia, Vietnam and Korea, sinicized countries or countries boasting large overseas Chinese communities. Issues and problems related to these translational activities and cultural phenomena are presented as tools to test the limits of the polysystem theory. Part II is a micro-level study focussing on the specifics of rendering Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain by Jin Yong into English. I will argue, in the main, that many difficulties, inherent in both the translating and reading processes, can be constructed within the theoretical framework of Andre Lefevere's concept of "constraint", particularly that of the universe of discourse. Lefevere's connotation of the universe of discourse will be expanded to embrace different cultural presuppositions and literary assumptions underlying two divergent world cultures, hence different reader expectations in the reading process. It is hoped that the findings and results of this descriptive case history of martial arts fiction as a literary genre in translational migrations will contribute to the accumulation of knowledge.