Images of Chinese Women in the Hands of Translators: A Case Study of the English Translations of Pu Songling’s Liaozhai zhi yi = 译者眼中的中国女性形象:以蒲松龄《聊斋志异》英译为例

Wen-chun LIANG

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


This paper discusses the images of traditional Chinese women in the English translations of Pu Songling’s Liaozhai zhi yi. This is a fictional work famous for its vivid and lively love stories between young male scholars and beautiful female spirits, immortals, and demons. Pu Songling often described the female super natural beings in his fictional work as beautiful, kind, obedient, loyal, and passive. These are characteristics that reflect the values and images of traditional Chinese women from the Confucian perspective. According to Beller and Leerseen (2007), imagology examines “the origin and characteristics of other countries and peoples”, which are often depicted in works of literature at the textual level. Previous studies of Liaozhai zhi yi’s English translations also touched upon the translation of imagology (e.g., Dong & Hu, 2013; Chen, 2014). However, none of them considered the sociological aspects that influence how translators reconstruct original images in their translations. Nevertheless, when reformulating original text images, translators, whose behaviours are constructed by sociocultural determinants in a given social space and time, should not be immune from the imagological approach in the study of translations. This paper studies two English translations of Liaozhai zhi yi, namely, Herbert Giles’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Pu, 1880/2010) and John Minford’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Pu, 2006). This paper examines how these two translators reaccentuated the image narratives of traditional Chinese women portrayed in Liaozhai zhi yi. It discusses how these images transformed in the West by investigating the social contextualization of the two translators. It is hoped that this paper’s emphasis on the sociological aspects of image-making through translation will constitute a significant contribution to the study of imagology.
本文讨论了蒲松龄《聊斋志异》英译中的中国传统女性形象。《聊斋志异》因生动活泼地描述年轻男性文人与美丽的女妖、神仙和女鬼之间的爱情故事而闻名。这些女性神怪人物在蒲松龄笔下经常是美丽、善良、服从、忠诚和被动的形象。这些特征从儒家的角度反映了中国传统女性的价值观和形象。在贝勒和莱尔森(Beller & Leerseen,2007)看来,意象形态反映的是“其他国家和人民的起源和特征”,这些描述经常在文学作品中得到体现。之前对《聊斋志异》英语翻译的研究也涉及意象形态的翻译(例如,Dong & Hu,2013;Chen,2014), 但他们皆未考虑影响译者在其翻译中重建原始意象的社会文化因素。然而,当重新制定原始文本意象时,译者的行为往往受到其身处的某特定时期的社会影响,而这些因素不应在意象学研究中受到忽略。本文研究《聊斋志异》的两个英文译本,分别是翟理斯(Herbert Giles)的《聊斋志异》(1880/2010)和闵福德(John Minford)的《聊斋志异》(2006)。本文探讨了这两位译者如何重演《聊斋志异》中描写的中国传统女性的形象叙事,通过研究两位译者的社会语境来讨论西方的这些形象转变。本文重点探讨通过翻译塑造形象过程中的社会学因素,希望对意象学的研究做出贡献。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
JournalTranslation Horizons
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Liaozhai zhi yi
  • images of Chinese women
  • English translation
  • imagology
  • 聊斋志异
  • 中国女性形象
  • 英语翻译
  • 意象学


Dive into the research topics of 'Images of Chinese Women in the Hands of Translators: A Case Study of the English Translations of Pu Songling’s Liaozhai zhi yi = 译者眼中的中国女性形象:以蒲松龄《聊斋志异》英译为例'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this