Literary Translation in Contemporary China
2. A Historical Review
37 2. A Historical Review Recent work in Translation Studies has made it clear that translation does not exist in a vacuum, and it is impossible to understand trans- lation without taking into consideration its social and cultural setting (Lefevere, 1992: 14; Bassnett and Trivedi, 1999: 2). This chapter plac- es literary translation in the contemporary Chinese context, and con- ducts a systemic examination of the various social mechanisms and inﬂuencing factors behind translation norms and practices at different times in contemporary China. The historical review presented in this chapter describes some overall tendencies or general patterns of trans- lation behaviour in the contemporary Chinese context. It also provides useful background and perspective for the case studies in the following chapters. The development of Descriptive Translation Studies in the past few decades has constructed various frameworks for understanding the social dimension of translation. Itamar Even-Zohar’s polysystem theory (1978, 1990), for example, offers valuable insight into how the cultural and literary ﬁelds are structured and how they change over time. Gideon Toury’s norm-based approach (1980, 1995, and 1998) beneﬁts transla- tion research with a more deliberate scrutiny into the cultural assump- tions and social expectations that guide the production of translation. Following and expanding upon Even-Zohar and Toury, André Lefevere (1992a, 1992) continues to work on a systemic approach to translation, and argues that translation needs to be seen as a form of ‘re-writing’, embedded in and conditioned by larger cultural and socio-economical structures. In this chapter, we will...
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