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An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation, Volume 1, From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project (review)

An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation, Volume 1, From Earliest Times to the Buddhist... Reviews 321 Insum,thebookprovidesamultifacetedanalysisofHongKong'sdevelopmentinthefirstdecade.However,thequalityofthechaptersvaries,withchapters 4and14beingthepoorest.Oneamountstoapersonalattackonthepro- democracycampandtheotheristhewishfulthinkingofaU.S.diplomat.Ibelieve thatthetwochaptersareincludedsimplytobalancetheviewsofthepro-China standandU.S.governmentrepresentative.However,oneissueisnoticeablyabsent: theroleoftheHongKong'sLiaisonOfficeoftheCentralGovernment.TheinfluenceofthisinvisiblehandhasbeengrowinginHongKongpolitics.Awidely circulatedrumorhintsthatSaiWan(WesternDistrict,theliaisonoffice)controls ChungWan(CentralDistrict,governmentheadquarters).Yetnoacademicbook orarticlehassubjectedtheofficetocriticalscrutiny.Itisparadoxicalthatinacity astransparentasHongKong,apowerfulforcethatinfluencestheCE'snomination oftheexecutivecouncilors,mastermindingtheelectionsoftheLegislativeCouncil andDistrictCouncils,remainsunanalyzedbyacademics. Yiu-chungWong Yiu-chung Wong is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, with research interests in Chinese and Hong Kong politics and society. MarthaP.Y.Cheung,editor.An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation,Volume 1, From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project. Manchester:StJeromePublishing,2006.xxix,268pp.Hardcover45.00, isbn1-900650-92-4. Thisanthology,mostablyeditedbyMarthaCheungofHongKongBaptistUniversity,isbuiltonalong-termcollectiveendeavorinvolvingalargenumberofoutstandingtranslationscholarsandtranslatorsfrombothHongKongandmainland China.Althoughmostofthematerialincludedisreadilyavailableelsewherein Chinese,thisvolumepresentsittotheinternationaltranslationstudiescom unity m inEnglishtranslation,inanintelligentandintelligibleeditorialformat,thereby providingafascinatingmassofmaterialforscholarswithnoknowledgeofthe Chineselanguage.ThisisHongKongscholarshipasitsverybest.ItisHongKong playingitsage-oldroleofChina'sfacetotheworld.Itwillcertainlyhelptodispel thereputationChinahasacquiredofhavingalwaysbeenamonolingual,monolithic,inward-lookingcultureinwhichtranslationhasplayedlittlepart.Itwillalso © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 322 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 provideahealthyadditiontotheprevailingdebate,conductedincentersoftranslationstudies,whichmostlyoperateinEnglish(despitetheirstatedambitionsnot tobeEurocentric).HereisawealthofdetailedexamplesoftheeloquentChinese wayoftalkingabouttranslation,abouttheChinesepracticeandphilosophyofthe artoftranslation.Astheeditorproudlystatesinherintroduction,itwill,ina broadersense,contributeto"afullerunderstandingofandadeeperrespectfor Chineseculture"(p.2). Thispracticeandphilosophy--thiswayoftalking--haveformanycenturies takenplacewithinthebroaderChineseframeworkoftalkingaboutliteratureand art,and,indeed,aboutlifeingeneral.Itis,therefore,onlytobeexpectedthatthe underlyingideologywillseemtosomenon-Chineseobserverstobeassurprising asaZenkoan,asenigmaticasalinefromtheConfucian Analectsorfromthe Taoistclassic,theDaodejing (both,incidentally,representedintheanthology). Thisisasitshouldbe.Translationasahumanactivitycanhardlybeanexception totheoverallrulesofculturaldiscourse.InChina,formanyhundredsofyears,the natureoftheprocessoftranslationwasboundtoreflecttheperceivednatureof theuniverse,ofitstransactions,andofallhumanexperience.Toputitmore starkly,inthewordsoftheBuddhistmonkZanNingfromthetwelfthcentury: "Translationischange."Change,especiallyasamplifiedinthatclassicofclassics, The Book ofChange,waspartofthecommoncurrency,thecommonground,of thethreesharedpillarsofChinesephilosophy:Confucianism,Taoism,andBuddhism.Thisbroadconsensusinformedattitudestowardtranslationastransformation,asanart,asatoolforunderstanding,asanaspectofthehumancondition, andasadimensionofenlightenment.AsMarcelProustunderstoodandstated so unforgettably,theartoftranslationisatitsdeepestleveltheartoflife;itisan actwherebytheinnerlife(la vie intérieure)isexternalized,transformed,and articulated. Theoverwhelmingportionofthisfineanthology(156outofatotalof268 pages)isdevotedto"theBuddhistproject,"fromtheearliestpractitionerssuchas AnShigao(2ndcenturyc.e.)andDaoAn(312/14­385),tothelaterdiscoursesof theTangandSongdynasties.Whilereadersmaynotalwaysagreewiththeeditor's terminology(Iforoneseenocompellingreasonforsubstitutingtheunattractive "Ruism"forthewell-worn"Confucianism"),thereisanoverallqualityofexcellenceinthepresentationofthiswiderangeoftestimonies.Thetranslationsthemselvesareaccurate,fluent,andaboveallintelligent.Thecontextualdescriptionsare scholarlywithoutbeingpedantic. ThisChinese"discourse"(awordcarefullychosenbytheeditortoavoidthe awkwardlyinappropriateconnotationsof"theory")ontranslationstandsin relationtomuchWesternwritingontranslation,ratherasthetraditionalChinese "discourse"onliteraturestandsinrelationtoWesternliterarycriticism.The hundredsofextraordinaryChineseworksofliterarydiscourse,withdisarmingly modesttitlesendinginhua(shihua,cihua,quhua),andthemillionsofpagesof Reviews 323 informalinterlinearcommentary(ofpoetry,drama,fiction,andofcoursethe classicsandprose)havefordecadesbeenslightedasimpressionistic,unmethodical,essentiallyofnointerestorvaluetothepostmodernWesterncritic.However, evenasnewsreachesusinthemustyandclaustrophobiccorridorsofWestern literarycorrectnessthattherevengeoftheaestheticisonitswayandthatthe drearydominanceofculturaltheoryisnearingtheendofitsnaturallife,works suchasCheung'santhologyprovideatimelyreminderthatitwasnotalwaysso. Suchworksgivethewearyworldasharplyfocusedandfreshlookatanother traditionofseeingthingsthatmayprove,finally,tobeatoncemoremodernand moreenduringthanallthevolumesofmodernandpostmoderncriticaltheory. Thecatalogueoftermsusedbythetwoschoolsoftranslation,wen(refined), andzhi(unhewn),whichCheungdiscussesinherintroduction(p.10),isatonce reminiscentoftheterminologyofChineseliteraryandaestheticappreciation,of thetraditionthatgoesbacktoworkssuchasLuJi'sRhapsody in Literature.Indeed, thewholeenterpriseoftranslationinChinahasbeeninextricablylinkedtothe richdiscoursesurroundingliteratureandart.Thiscontinuestobethecaseright intothetwenty-firstcentury. Cheungandherteamofcollaboratorshavebroughtahighstandardofscholarshipandagreatdealofindustrytothiscollectivework.Therehavebeenseveral previousattemptstodragthisdifficulttopic(specificallytheChinesetranslations oftheBuddhistsutras)intothelightofday,onlytoendupasbookslittlereador consultedbytranslatorsorscholars,exceptinthenarrowfieldofBuddhiststudies. Whatliftsthisbookabovethatlevelisthelivelinessofmind,breadthofreading, andcreativityofspiritevidencedoneverypage,ineveryfootnote.Asaresult,itis abooknotjustofvalueforscholarsoftranslationstudies.ThestudentofChinese thought,literature,andcultureingeneralwilllearnanenormousamountfromits pages.Thisbookisoneofthoserarecaseswhere,throughtheprismofthatprocessofreadingandunderstandingwhichistranslation,oldtextsandsayings, indeedwholesectionsoftheculturallandscape,areseeninanewlight.(One thinksofbookslikeGeorgeSteiner'sAfter Babelorthechapteronthetranslatoras readerinAlbertoManguel'sA History of Reading.)Thefirstexcerptinthisbook consistsoftheopeningwordsofthegreatTaoistclassic,theDaodejing(p.23). "The WaythatcanbespeltoutisnottheconstantWay.Thenamethatcanbe namedisnottheconstantname."This,ofcourse,hasimportantrepercussionsfor thenatureoflanguageandoftranslationitself.However,suchrepercussionsin theirturnleadthereadertoreflectonthecentralityofthenotionofchangein Chineseculture,and,hence,tofeelvividlythegripthatthissenseoffluxhadon theChinesemindandimagination.Equallypregnantwithnewmeaningwhen revisitedinthisbookareConfucius'immortalwords(p.29),"Whenselectingyour words,itissufficientiftheycangetyourmeaningacross(da)"(Analects,book15, chapter40).Thispronouncementechoesthroughthecenturies,tobefamously pickedupinthenineteenthcenturybythegreatYanFu.Foradiscussionofhis 324 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 subtlereinterpretationofthetermda,weawaitCheung'ssecondvolume.This word(likesomanyotherstobefoundinthevocabularyofChinesetranslation criticism)hasmeaningfarbeyonditsimmediateapplicationtotheuseoflanguage.ItisakeywordintheconceptionoftheConfuciantruegentleman,orthe Taoistmanofvirtue.Tocompletethecircle,thebesttranslator--theonewhocan reallypenetratetotheheartofatextandreturnwithitstruereincarnationin anotherlanguage--is,ultimately,agentlemanorgentlewoman,andaman/ woman ofvirtue.Sincerity,insight,andanopenheartandmindarethe requirements. AlthoughthetextsselectedbyCheungandherteamcanbefoundinmultiple Chinese-languageanthologies,Imyselfregretthatthisotherwisebeautifully producedandexcellentlyedited,designed,andindexedvolumedoesnotgiveus theChineseoriginals.Thiscasewouldhavebeenperfectfortheparallel-text format.Ifthatinclusionwasconsideredtoooff-puttingforthegeneralreader,the textscouldhavebeenprintedasanappendix.Perhapsinanotheredition? JohnMinford John Minford is a translator of Chinese literature. He http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation, Volume 1, From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project (review)

China Review International , Volume 17 (3) – Jun 15, 2010

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Abstract

Reviews 321 Insum,thebookprovidesamultifacetedanalysisofHongKong'sdevelopmentinthefirstdecade.However,thequalityofthechaptersvaries,withchapters 4and14beingthepoorest.Oneamountstoapersonalattackonthepro- democracycampandtheotheristhewishfulthinkingofaU.S.diplomat.Ibelieve thatthetwochaptersareincludedsimplytobalancetheviewsofthepro-China standandU.S.governmentrepresentative.However,oneissueisnoticeablyabsent: theroleoftheHongKong'sLiaisonOfficeoftheCentralGovernment.TheinfluenceofthisinvisiblehandhasbeengrowinginHongKongpolitics.Awidely circulatedrumorhintsthatSaiWan(WesternDistrict,theliaisonoffice)controls ChungWan(CentralDistrict,governmentheadquarters).Yetnoacademicbook orarticlehassubjectedtheofficetocriticalscrutiny.Itisparadoxicalthatinacity astransparentasHongKong,apowerfulforcethatinfluencestheCE'snomination oftheexecutivecouncilors,mastermindingtheelectionsoftheLegislativeCouncil andDistrictCouncils,remainsunanalyzedbyacademics. Yiu-chungWong Yiu-chung Wong is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, with research interests in Chinese and Hong Kong politics and society. MarthaP.Y.Cheung,editor.An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation,Volume 1, From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project. Manchester:StJeromePublishing,2006.xxix,268pp.Hardcover45.00, isbn1-900650-92-4. Thisanthology,mostablyeditedbyMarthaCheungofHongKongBaptistUniversity,isbuiltonalong-termcollectiveendeavorinvolvingalargenumberofoutstandingtranslationscholarsandtranslatorsfrombothHongKongandmainland China.Althoughmostofthematerialincludedisreadilyavailableelsewherein Chinese,thisvolumepresentsittotheinternationaltranslationstudiescom unity m inEnglishtranslation,inanintelligentandintelligibleeditorialformat,thereby providingafascinatingmassofmaterialforscholarswithnoknowledgeofthe Chineselanguage.ThisisHongKongscholarshipasitsverybest.ItisHongKong playingitsage-oldroleofChina'sfacetotheworld.Itwillcertainlyhelptodispel thereputationChinahasacquiredofhavingalwaysbeenamonolingual,monolithic,inward-lookingcultureinwhichtranslationhasplayedlittlepart.Itwillalso © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 322 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 provideahealthyadditiontotheprevailingdebate,conductedincentersoftranslationstudies,whichmostlyoperateinEnglish(despitetheirstatedambitionsnot tobeEurocentric).HereisawealthofdetailedexamplesoftheeloquentChinese wayoftalkingabouttranslation,abouttheChinesepracticeandphilosophyofthe artoftranslation.Astheeditorproudlystatesinherintroduction,itwill,ina broadersense,contributeto"afullerunderstandingofandadeeperrespectfor Chineseculture"(p.2). Thispracticeandphilosophy--thiswayoftalking--haveformanycenturies takenplacewithinthebroaderChineseframeworkoftalkingaboutliteratureand art,and,indeed,aboutlifeingeneral.Itis,therefore,onlytobeexpectedthatthe underlyingideologywillseemtosomenon-Chineseobserverstobeassurprising asaZenkoan,asenigmaticasalinefromtheConfucian Analectsorfromthe Taoistclassic,theDaodejing (both,incidentally,representedintheanthology). Thisisasitshouldbe.Translationasahumanactivitycanhardlybeanexception totheoverallrulesofculturaldiscourse.InChina,formanyhundredsofyears,the natureoftheprocessoftranslationwasboundtoreflecttheperceivednatureof theuniverse,ofitstransactions,andofallhumanexperience.Toputitmore starkly,inthewordsoftheBuddhistmonkZanNingfromthetwelfthcentury: "Translationischange."Change,especiallyasamplifiedinthatclassicofclassics, The Book ofChange,waspartofthecommoncurrency,thecommonground,of thethreesharedpillarsofChinesephilosophy:Confucianism,Taoism,andBuddhism.Thisbroadconsensusinformedattitudestowardtranslationastransformation,asanart,asatoolforunderstanding,asanaspectofthehumancondition, andasadimensionofenlightenment.AsMarcelProustunderstoodandstated so unforgettably,theartoftranslationisatitsdeepestleveltheartoflife;itisan actwherebytheinnerlife(la vie intérieure)isexternalized,transformed,and articulated. Theoverwhelmingportionofthisfineanthology(156outofatotalof268 pages)isdevotedto"theBuddhistproject,"fromtheearliestpractitionerssuchas AnShigao(2ndcenturyc.e.)andDaoAn(312/14­385),tothelaterdiscoursesof theTangandSongdynasties.Whilereadersmaynotalwaysagreewiththeeditor's terminology(Iforoneseenocompellingreasonforsubstitutingtheunattractive "Ruism"forthewell-worn"Confucianism"),thereisanoverallqualityofexcellenceinthepresentationofthiswiderangeoftestimonies.Thetranslationsthemselvesareaccurate,fluent,andaboveallintelligent.Thecontextualdescriptionsare scholarlywithoutbeingpedantic. ThisChinese"discourse"(awordcarefullychosenbytheeditortoavoidthe awkwardlyinappropriateconnotationsof"theory")ontranslationstandsin relationtomuchWesternwritingontranslation,ratherasthetraditionalChinese "discourse"onliteraturestandsinrelationtoWesternliterarycriticism.The hundredsofextraordinaryChineseworksofliterarydiscourse,withdisarmingly modesttitlesendinginhua(shihua,cihua,quhua),andthemillionsofpagesof Reviews 323 informalinterlinearcommentary(ofpoetry,drama,fiction,andofcoursethe classicsandprose)havefordecadesbeenslightedasimpressionistic,unmethodical,essentiallyofnointerestorvaluetothepostmodernWesterncritic.However, evenasnewsreachesusinthemustyandclaustrophobiccorridorsofWestern literarycorrectnessthattherevengeoftheaestheticisonitswayandthatthe drearydominanceofculturaltheoryisnearingtheendofitsnaturallife,works suchasCheung'santhologyprovideatimelyreminderthatitwasnotalwaysso. Suchworksgivethewearyworldasharplyfocusedandfreshlookatanother traditionofseeingthingsthatmayprove,finally,tobeatoncemoremodernand moreenduringthanallthevolumesofmodernandpostmoderncriticaltheory. Thecatalogueoftermsusedbythetwoschoolsoftranslation,wen(refined), andzhi(unhewn),whichCheungdiscussesinherintroduction(p.10),isatonce reminiscentoftheterminologyofChineseliteraryandaestheticappreciation,of thetraditionthatgoesbacktoworkssuchasLuJi'sRhapsody in Literature.Indeed, thewholeenterpriseoftranslationinChinahasbeeninextricablylinkedtothe richdiscoursesurroundingliteratureandart.Thiscontinuestobethecaseright intothetwenty-firstcentury. Cheungandherteamofcollaboratorshavebroughtahighstandardofscholarshipandagreatdealofindustrytothiscollectivework.Therehavebeenseveral previousattemptstodragthisdifficulttopic(specificallytheChinesetranslations oftheBuddhistsutras)intothelightofday,onlytoendupasbookslittlereador consultedbytranslatorsorscholars,exceptinthenarrowfieldofBuddhiststudies. Whatliftsthisbookabovethatlevelisthelivelinessofmind,breadthofreading, andcreativityofspiritevidencedoneverypage,ineveryfootnote.Asaresult,itis abooknotjustofvalueforscholarsoftranslationstudies.ThestudentofChinese thought,literature,andcultureingeneralwilllearnanenormousamountfromits pages.Thisbookisoneofthoserarecaseswhere,throughtheprismofthatprocessofreadingandunderstandingwhichistranslation,oldtextsandsayings, indeedwholesectionsoftheculturallandscape,areseeninanewlight.(One thinksofbookslikeGeorgeSteiner'sAfter Babelorthechapteronthetranslatoras readerinAlbertoManguel'sA History of Reading.)Thefirstexcerptinthisbook consistsoftheopeningwordsofthegreatTaoistclassic,theDaodejing(p.23). "The WaythatcanbespeltoutisnottheconstantWay.Thenamethatcanbe namedisnottheconstantname."This,ofcourse,hasimportantrepercussionsfor thenatureoflanguageandoftranslationitself.However,suchrepercussionsin theirturnleadthereadertoreflectonthecentralityofthenotionofchangein Chineseculture,and,hence,tofeelvividlythegripthatthissenseoffluxhadon theChinesemindandimagination.Equallypregnantwithnewmeaningwhen revisitedinthisbookareConfucius'immortalwords(p.29),"Whenselectingyour words,itissufficientiftheycangetyourmeaningacross(da)"(Analects,book15, chapter40).Thispronouncementechoesthroughthecenturies,tobefamously pickedupinthenineteenthcenturybythegreatYanFu.Foradiscussionofhis 324 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.17,No.3,2010 subtlereinterpretationofthetermda,weawaitCheung'ssecondvolume.This word(likesomanyotherstobefoundinthevocabularyofChinesetranslation criticism)hasmeaningfarbeyonditsimmediateapplicationtotheuseoflanguage.ItisakeywordintheconceptionoftheConfuciantruegentleman,orthe Taoistmanofvirtue.Tocompletethecircle,thebesttranslator--theonewhocan reallypenetratetotheheartofatextandreturnwithitstruereincarnationin anotherlanguage--is,ultimately,agentlemanorgentlewoman,andaman/ woman ofvirtue.Sincerity,insight,andanopenheartandmindarethe requirements. AlthoughthetextsselectedbyCheungandherteamcanbefoundinmultiple Chinese-languageanthologies,Imyselfregretthatthisotherwisebeautifully producedandexcellentlyedited,designed,andindexedvolumedoesnotgiveus theChineseoriginals.Thiscasewouldhavebeenperfectfortheparallel-text format.Ifthatinclusionwasconsideredtoooff-puttingforthegeneralreader,the textscouldhavebeenprintedasanappendix.Perhapsinanotheredition? JohnMinford John Minford is a translator of Chinese literature. He

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2010

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