Displacement and intervention : re-creating literary texts through cross-cultural translation

Yifeng SUN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Translation that entails contextual shifts giving rise to different signifying forms may call the target reader’s interpretive strategies into question. Contextual displacement not only imposes linguistic and cultural constraints on translation but also opens up the space of cultural alterity comprising both hermeneutic and manipulative aspects. Translation is necessarily based on rewriting, which calls for some forms of invention and intervention, for unless strictly literal translation is possible in the communicative process, different manifestations of intervention are made possible by rewriting, which is designed to address the apparent incoherence in a translated text caused by linguistic and cultural dislocation. In truth, many parts in a literary text remain untranslated or suffer from under-translation because they appear to be cross-culturally untranslatable. This may indeed result in the emergence of a new subjectivity trying to balance fidelity and freedom so that the two can become mutually reinforcing. Thus there is a constant struggle between authenticity and alteration in the authentic construction of cultural alterity. The translator’s growing empowerment is epitomized in his/her decision regarding whether to intervene or how to intervene in the target text so as to create either a “foreign” or domesticated reading experience. In view of growing cross-cultural awareness, it is necessary to investigate how literary translation has challenged and transformed the indigenous cultural values and traditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Paper presented at the International Conference on Translating Global Cultures, Aug 12-16, 2006, Beijing, China.


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