Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Literary Creation > Literary Translation

Creative Treason in Literary Translation from the Perspective of Reception Theory

Author LaiKangSheng
Tutor ZhongPing
School Gannan Teachers' College
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Literary Translation Creative Treason Reception Theory Subjectivity Acceptability
CLC I046
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Traditional translation studies concentrate on the transfer of linguistic level between two languages. Most translation theorists keen on research of translation skills, such as free translation and literal translation, alienation and domestication. Whether the target text is loyal to the original text or not is the highest principle when they do the translation. Among the translation criteria,“Three Translation Principles”-“Faithfulness”,“Expressiveness”,“Elegance”, put forward by Yan Fu is advocated by many translators. Therefore, under such a circumstance, translators should be careful and not betray the source text, or else, they will be called“betrayer”. Thus, the translated text is featured by“translationese”, which makes the readers beyond the comprehension although translator exerts great effort on it. During the period of traditional translation theory, the best state for translator is to be invisible. Translator is positioned into an embarrassing place“one servant, two hosts”. On the one hand, source text should be faithful to the original text, and restrained by the content and formality of the original text; on the other hand, translator has to make the reader obtain the same feeling as the reader of the original text. As the gradual development of translation theory and accumulated experience of translation practice, more and more translators are aware of the fact that the ideal state- translated text is totally loyal to the original text, is destined to be a vision. Eugne Nida, the American translation theorist, had to admit that it is inevitable for translator to bring his own thoughts into the translation. Since the 1930s, Chinese theorists also didn’t regard“faithfulness”as their sole criterion. Among them, Fu Lei raised“Likeness in Spirit to the Original Works”; Qian Zhongshu put forth“Transmigration of Souls from the Original Works to the Translated Version”; Xu Yuanchong proposed“Competition Between Source Text and Target Text”and Gu Zhengkun posed“Complementary Multiple Criteria”for translation. If these theories are the elementary investigation of translator’s subjectivity, then, Professor Xie Tianzhen’s description of“creative treason”in literary translation stimulates scholars to focus on it.“Creative treason”is created by Escarpit, the French socialist.“Translation is always a kind of creative treason.”Xie Tianzhen defined the creation and treason respectively:“Creation in literary translation demonstrates translator’s subjective effort to get close to and represent the source text through his artistic creation, while treason in literary translation shows the objective betray to the original text because of translator’s certain subjective desire.”So, creative treason happens especially in the field of literary translation. Literary translation, as an independent concept, emerged earliest in translation theory of western countries. Western theorists used to take literary translation as a kind of writing. However, in China, Mao Dun’s definition of literary translation is mostly acceptable:“Literary translation transmits the artistic quality of the original text by using another language, which makes the readers get the same response as the readers of the original text.”Therefore, the final target of literary translation is to let original text re-find its readers in the target language and make the original text attain its second life through translated text. Escarpit held that in literary translation, translator betrays the meaning of the source text, adds or reduces, adapts, even fabricates the content of the source text, which definitely, is a kind of treason to the source text. However, this means of translation endows the source text with a completely new appearance. Accordingly, creative treason in literary translation is inevitable.Since the expression“creative treason”emerged, a lot of scholars are engaged in a wide research of it. The horizons of research involve the reason and manifestation of creative treason, subjectivity and so on. While taking a panoramic view of these studies, there’re some problems we have to pay attention to: First, there’s no systematic explanation of creative treason in literary translation; second, how to define the subjects in literary translation and their subjectivity; third, misunderstandings of creative treason are always in existence in literary translation. As to these problems, this paper will give a relatively overall interpretation of creative treason by making use of Reception Theory.In the 1960s, based on Phenomenenology and Hermeutics, Canstance School, Hans Robert Jauss and Wolfgang Iser founded Reception Aesthetic Theory centered on reader, which transfers the perspectives of literary research. Some important concepts, such as“Horizons of Expectation”,“Indeterminacy”, and“Concretization”, etc, all can be adopted into explaining the phenomenon of creative treason in literary translation. Translation studies is an integrated subject including social science and humane science. Reception Theory takes a stand against western modern scientism, puts an emphasis on communication among different cultures and fusion of horizons and builds a critical diagram, which is characterized by humane science and subjective spirit. It brings a profound revolution to traditional translation studies and offers a completely new perspective and method for translation studies. Reception Theory throws a light on literary translation and we can safely arrive at the conclusion that literary translation should not be the monologue of original author or source text but in the“schematized structure”of the original text, translator communicates with“implied author”with“horizons of expectation”and“fusion of horizon”is taken in the shape finally. Reception Theory declares that the process of reader’s reception is the creation to the original text. Naturally, literary translation is a kind of writing and translator, meanwhile, is the reader and receptor. During the literary translation, translators own the initiative to translate the text creatively. Reception Theory provides theoretical basis for creative treason in literary translation.However, creative treason in literary translation is not acted on impulse. It’s still limited by other objective factors. On the one hand, it’s limited by“schematized structure”of original text; on the other hand, it’s restrained by reader’s response. It’s believed that just because of these limitations, creative treason in literary translation avoids being considered as mistranslation. Supported by Reception Theory, creative treason in literary translation becomes more rational and necessary.

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