Sino-Babylonianism, The Book of Chinese Poetry, and the mobility of the Chinese sign

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)

Abstract

This paper examines how ideas about Chinese literature was formed, negotiated and mobilized across different realms of the discourse through various sinological and literary encounters with the Shijing, or the ancient Chinese book of poetry. I will focus in particular on Clement F. R. Allen’s 1891 translation, The Book of Chinese Poetry, which is informed by the then current sino-Babylonian theory in British sinology. Contrary to the more commonly described Orientalist paradigms, Allen’s approach to ancient China is not based upon binary distinctions between the East and the West, but rather works within a framework of sameness and common origin, seeking to appropriate ancient China into a monogenetic, diffusionist narrative of world civilizations. Within this framework and via textual and paratextual means, the sinologist-translator’s interpretive and representational authority was established and a highly “fluent” translation of the Chinese original was validated. Interestingly, this fluency in the text of translation does not work in tandem with “the translator’s invisibility” – there is a seeming discrepancy between the transparent surface of translation and the density of the paratextual materials, which complicates simple dichotomies in categorizing translation. I will try to relate Allen’s translation to the discursive trends in late nineteenth-century sinology and furthermore consider how particular strands of sinological Orientalism move beyond the sinological field and come to be adapted by early twentieth-century poet-translators, whose literary approaches to the Shijing incorporate the ancient poetry of China into a cosmopolitan aesthetic vision.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018
EventThe 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility - Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Duration: 3 Jul 20186 Jul 2018
https://www.iatis.org/images/stories/6thIATISConference_BookOfAbstracts.pdf

Conference

ConferenceThe 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility
CountryHong Kong
CityKowloon Tong
Period3/07/186/07/18
Internet address

Keywords

  • Sino-Babylonian theory
  • British sinology
  • Translation
  • Classical Chinese poetry
  • The Shijing

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  • Cite this

    LIN, L. Q. (2018). Sino-Babylonianism, The Book of Chinese Poetry, and the mobility of the Chinese sign. Paper presented at The 6th International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference : Translation and Cultural Mobility, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.