Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

A Study on the Translator’s Subjectivity of Yang Xianyi

Author ZhangChao
Tutor WangShuHuai
School Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Yang Xianyi Gladys Yang translator subjectivity A Dream of Red Mansions poetry translation case study David Hawkes
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Yang Xianyi (1915--2009) was one of the most outstanding literary translators in Chinese translation history. Throughout his life, he, teaming up with his wife Gladys Yang (1919--1999), who was also a noted translator, had translated and introduced numerous Chinese classical, modern and contemporary literary works to western readers as well as some masterpieces from other languages to Chinese readers on his own, thus making great contributions to the progress of China’s translation cause. Few people could be compared with them in terms of quantity and quality. Yang Xianyi could be defined as a translation practitioner rather than a theorist. Although he himself had an enormous interest in both western and Chinese literature and had reached a high academic level, his translation activities were much more determined by his career demands.Yang Xianyi’s early attempts on translation were purely out of interest. While in Oxford, he translated Li Sao into English with the help of his future wife Gladys. In 1940, Yang Xianyi came back to China with Gladys Taylor. In 1943, the couple decided to work at the Institute of Translation and Compilation, marking their beginning of life as professional translators. After Liberation in 1949, the Yangs went to work in Foreign Languages Press in Beijing. In 1957, Yang Xianyi was made associate editor of Chinese Literature magazine. This was the beginning of the high-yielding period. At this period Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang together accomplished a huge task of translating Chinese literature into English, covering both ancient and modern. After the Cultural Revolution, the translation of A Dream of Red Mansions marked the peak of the Yangs’translation career.This thesis first introduces previous researches of Yang Xianyi and the arguments of Chinese poetry translation. Then we discuss Yang Xianyi’s translator subjectivity, analyzing the factors that contributed to his translation features and ideas of literature translation. Afterwards, a case study of readers’response to the Yangs’and David Hawkes’ classical Chinese poetry translation will be carried out. The source material are English versions of two poems taken from the Chinese classics Hong Lou Meng (《红楼梦》) . Native English-speakers are invited to give out their opinions on the translations. Through comparison, the pros and cons of the two versions of translation will be analyzed with evidence, giving us a basic idea of how Yang’s translation serves his purpose of translation. In the last part, the author sums up the thesis with its results and shortcomings.

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