The transformation of the translation of American poetry into Chinese : from Les Contemporains (1932-1935) to Literary Currents (1956-1959), from Mainland China to Hong Kong

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Abstract

This article looks at the translation of American poetry into Chinese published in two important literary magazines, Les Contemporains (1932-1935) and Literary Currents (1956-1959), edited and translated respectively by Shi Zhecun (1905-2003) in Shanghai, and Ronald Mar (1933-) in Hong Kong. Shi Zhecun was considered a harbinger of Western literary modernism, and made possible a new form of poetic expression in China, which came to be known as the “Moderns.” Shi’s translation of the Imagists poets helped him realize what he called “image-lyric poetry” which in part initiated the camp of the Moderns in the mid-1930s. For his part, Ronald Mar settled in Hong Kong in 1951 and found himself in a similar situation to Shi in the 1930s. Satisfed neither with the sentimental nostalgic poetry written by the exiled right-wing poets, nor with the artless realist poetry by left-wing poets, Mar expressly tailored Literary Currents to a locus of modernist literature. His persistent translation and promotion of modernist poetry inspired the movement of literary modernism in Hong Kong.

In this article, I would argue that, though in different time and space, both Shi and Mar resorted to the translation of Western modernist poetry, as an a-political gesture towards the long standing debate between leftwing realist poets and rightwing romantic poets that began shortly after the May Fourth Movement in China and continued in Hong Kong during the 1950s. I would further the argument that, for both Shi and Mar, the translation of Western modernist poetry, apart from making their apolitical statement, symbolizes their pursuit of modernist poetics, their ideas on the development of modern Chinese poetry, and their ambition of ushering it towards modernism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2014
EventV International Symposium for Young Researchers in Translation, Interpreting, Intercultural Studies and East Asian Studies - Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 4 Jul 20144 Jul 2014
http://www.fti.uab.es/departament/simposi-2014/en/index.htm (Event link)

Conference

ConferenceV International Symposium for Young Researchers in Translation, Interpreting, Intercultural Studies and East Asian Studies
CountrySpain
CityBarcelona
Period4/07/144/07/14
Internet address

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    SONG, Z. C. (2014). The transformation of the translation of American poetry into Chinese : from Les Contemporains (1932-1935) to Literary Currents (1956-1959), from Mainland China to Hong Kong. Paper presented at V International Symposium for Young Researchers in Translation, Interpreting, Intercultural Studies and East Asian Studies, Barcelona, Spain.