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Title: Translating Jane Austen’s narratives across time and space in mainland China
Author(s): Li, Qi
Supervisor(s): Li, Saihong
Keywords: Jane Austen
Chinese translation
Issue Date: 20-Aug-2023
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This project investigates the Chinese translations and retranslations of Jane Austen’s six complete novels, analysing 63 target texts in total, within the socio-political milieu of mainland China from the 1930s onwards. Through a historical lens, this project covers a remarkable span of nine decades, including a significant period of political turbulence and literary vibrancy in early modern China. The project adopts a unique theme-based approach, dedicating six main chapters to the examination of six specific themes in Austen’s narratives: translation of terms relating to marriage in Pride and Prejudice, translation of food terms in Emma, translation of architectural terminology in Northanger Abbey, translation of terms relating to carriages in Sense and Sensibility, translation of genealogical terminology in Persuasion, and translation of political terms in Mansfield Park. The project illuminates the challenges faced by Chinese translators in conveying Austen’s nuanced references to Regency-era marital customs, culinary scenes, architectural settings, transport, genealogical relationships, and political dynamics. These challenges are influenced by the specificities of language, history, and culture. Drawing on House’s Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) framework, the study re-evaluates the effectiveness of translating Austen’s distinctive terms related to these themes, taking into account the historical dimension. This project examines how translators creatively translated and recontextualised Austen’s narratives from a diachronic perspective. The findings reveal an overall shift from covert to overt translation and an evolutionary nature in Chinese translations of Austen’s novels. Early translations occasionally display cross-cultural confusion due to insufficient socio-historical knowledge. Moreover, the project identifies limitations within House’s TQA framework, particularly regarding its translation typology and its focus on source text characteristics. This project attempts to contribute a broader understanding of cross-cultural adaptation and interpretation of Austen’s works within the Chinese context. Through the lens of history and employing a multifaceted approach, this project seeks to provide an original contribution to the field of “translated” Austen studies, providing valuable insights into the complexities and challenges inherent in cross-cultural translation endeavours.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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