Where Théophile Gautier Meets Li Yu: Mining Divergence and Common Ground from the “Heying Lou” to “Le Pavillon sur l'eau”

Yunfei BAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

Abstract

This article traces how the vernacular romance “Heying lou” by Chinese writer Li Yu morphed into Théophile Gautier's novella “Le Pavillon sur l'eau.” The original story, first rendered into English by John Francis Davis under the title “The Shadow in the Water,” was further translated into French by Jean-Pierre Abel Rémusat as “L'Ombre dans l'eau”; it is upon this latter work that Gautier based his “Le Pavillon sur l'eau.” Drawing on a meticulous scrutiny of each author's input into this multilayered transmission, I argue that by artfully rewriting a seventeenth-century Chinese tale centered on polygamy in accordance with late romantic French aesthetics and by foreignizing his prose style, Gautier not only recovered the literary agency of the “Heying Lou” lost in the previous utilitarian translations, but also elevated Rémusat's rendering of the Chinese story from a marginal item in the sinological archive into a well-polished piece of world literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-174
Number of pages27
JournalComparative Literature Studies
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Domestication
  • Foreignization
  • Li Yu
  • Théophile Gautier
  • World literature

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