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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 Seven. Conclusion 189


189 Chapter Seven. Conclusion This study has attempted to investigate the many English translations of Shen Congwen’s stories by various translators from the perspective of the style of narration. Before this present study was carried out, few studies of the English translations of Shen’s stories had been conducted. Of the very few studies that existed, except one of “Xiaoxiao” and one of “Zhangfu”, most touched on Gladys Yang’s translation of “Biancheng”, including two or three studies which compared her version of “Biancheng” with that of Ching Ti and Robert Payne. The comparison focused on the content rather than the form of the story. No previous study has ever been conducted on a larger scale to include the English translations of Shen’s other stories. Given the fact that Shen Congwen is one of the greatest writers in the history of modern Chinese literature, whose works have been widely translated, and given the unsatisfactory status quo of the study of his translations, this present study has aimed to tread the relatively unexplored field and to begin to fill the gap between the number of translations of Shen’s stories and the limited number of studies of them. As the English translations of Shen’s stories have been made by dozens of translators, this study has set out to investigate the differences demonstrated in their various translations, the tendencies of translation strategies adopted by different types of translators, and the reasons that might account for these differences. Considering that Shen has long been acclaimed as...

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