The China which is here : translating classical Chinese poetry
The thesis proposes to address how the tradition of translating Chinese poetry in the English speaking world developed in the early twentieth century and has continued. Problems relating to this issue, such as the great change in poetics and intellectual atmosphere since 1915 when Cathay appeared, its impact on the translation of Chinese poetry, and the universe of discourse of the two cultures involved, those of the Chinese and the English speaking world, as well as the constraints of the target system on the translations, will also be discussed. The introduction provides an overview of the poetics that valued traditional metres at the turn of the century, and applies polysystem theory to explain the lack of enthusiasm for translations of classical Chinese poetry before 1915. Chapter 2 discusses the constraints of language, the poetics and universe of discourse in the target system, suggesting that these constraints handicapped the widespread transfer of classical Chinese poetry before 1915. Chapter 3 examines xing, the poetic device in Chinese poetry that emphasizes the poet's spontaneous response to nature and the merging of scene and feeling. The very nature of xing defies any attempt to make it explicit. The chapter is divided into two parts, discussing xing in the encoding and decoding process respectively. Readerresponse criticism and phenomenology are also incorporated in the discussions. The chapter is followed by an analysis of various attempts to translate poems that are presented with zing in Chapter 4, which shows that there is a tendency on the part of some translators to add logical links between the scene and the feelings expressed. Chapter 5 looks at the translation strategies of Arthur Waley, investigating the traditions of translating classical Chinese poetry that he has helped to build up. The kind of smooth grammatical lines he uses and the Chineseness he conveys have had great influence on subsequent translators. Chapter 6 studies Ezra Pound, with special focus on his innovative work Cathay, and his juxtaposition techniques. Chapter 7 studies Kenneth Rexroth's translations of Du Fu, while Chapter 8 examines Gary Snyder's translations of Cold Mountain. The vehicle of translating Chinese poetry in general-- language and poetics-- was close to that of modern poetry in the target culture. Chapter 9, the conclusion, asserts that various strategies are adopted for various purposes. It tries to place the position of the translators discussed in a polysystem context. In the target system, poems are appreciated more for their charm than their being supposedly faithful to an original. The image of China created through translators remains distant. To the reader in the West, China is always far out "there," not here.