Transition and transformation : with special reference to the translation practice of Eileen Chang in the 1950s Hong Kong: 過渡與變革 : 一九五○年代張愛玲等人在香港的翻譯實踐

Yifeng SUN

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


The 1950s marked one decade of transition with regard to translation in Hong Kong at the height of ideological confrontation between East and West. Though diametrically opposed to each other in ideological terms, mainland China and Taiwan shared the same contempt for Hong Kong for its general lack of cultural proficiency. But this belies the fact that cultural immigration from mainland China in general and from Shanghai in particular significantly contributed to strengthening the position of Hong Kong as a site of cross-cultural convergence between oppositional ideologies. However, the original ideological commitment would decline to give way to cultural enlightenment and understanding. While both mainland China and Taiwan were under total ideological control, which meant strict censorship and banning of translations of ideologically sensitive texts, translation in Hong Kong, though almost exclusively financed by American money for anti-Communist invective, evolved on the promotion of American literature, and as a result, literary and cultural Americanness transcended the initial ideological function associated with translation. As it happened, many of the literary texts to be translated in Hong Kong were banned in mainland China, as they were labeled as “decadent” and “reactionary.” This paper argues that translation in Hong Kong serves to prepare for the revival and reshaping of translation practice in both mainland China and Taiwan. As a transitional period and zone, Hong Kong in the 1950s played a key role in avoiding the initial crude ideological propaganda, and its translation practice falls under the rubric of cultural politics that have important ramifications for transforming the nature of literary translation and creation alike in mainland China and Taiwan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
Journal現代中文文學學報 = Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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