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English Translations of Shen Congwen’s Stories

A Narrative Perspective

Minhui Xu

This book investigates the English translations of Shen Congwen’s stories. Shen Congwen (1902–1988) is one of the most acclaimed writers in modern Chinese literature. His works have been translated into more than ten languages and his 44 stories count with 70 different English translations. Adopting a case study method within the framework of Descriptive Translation Studies, the author selects and compares the most translated stories, those with three or more translations, totalling fifteen translations from four stories. The analysis of the texts focuses on Shen’s narrative style – his narrative commentaries and his lyrical narrative mode – to see how his style was re-presented in translation. In addition, the translators’ overt narrative intrusions – their added notes – are also examined.
Further, on the basis of Bourdieu’s sociological concepts, especially habitus, this study makes an attempt to interpret the different strategies adopted by different translators, including scholar/non-scholar translators, L1/L2 translators, and translators of the 1930s and 40s and those of the 1980s onwards.

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Chapter Six. Findings and Discussions 155

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155 Chapter Six. Findings and Discussions Translators always leave traces in their translations, consciously or unconsciously. That’s why we say that one thousand translators will produce one thousand Hamlets. There is no translation without a translator. Within the scope of this present study, we have come across different kinds of translators and their various choices in translating the texts. In this chapter, we will summarize the choice tendencies of different groups of translators and try to figure out what lies behind their various choices. 6.1 Tendencies of Translation Strategies Employed by Different Translators Translators involved in this study include the L1 translators who translate into their native language, the L2 translators who translate out of their native language, the scholar translators who publish academic works in other research areas in addition to publishing translations, and the non-scholar translators who do not publish in other academic disciplines. In dealing with the English translations of Shen Congwen’s stories with a focus on his style of narration, these different translators have showcased various strategies in rendering original narrative commentaries, in presenting lyrical style, and in adding their own notes as paratext of narration. 6.1.1 Scholar Translators vs. Non-scholar Translators The present study has found that the biggest differences in translation style are those between the scholar translator group and the non-scholar 156 translator group, rather than those between the L1 translators and the L2 translators, or the translators of the 1930s and 40s and those of the 1980s onwards. Obvious differences between the...

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