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Title: Translating eroticism in traditional Chinese drama : three English versions of The Peony Pavilion
Authors: Lee, TK
Ngai, SBC 
Keywords: Traditional Chinese drama
Three English versions of The Pony Pavillion
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: John Benjamins
Source: Babel, 2012, v. 58, no. 1, p. 73-94 How to cite?
Journal: Babel 
Abstract: This paper compares and contrasts three English versions of The Peony Pavilion, with a view to exploring the strategies adopted in the three translations in respect to their treatment of erotic passages in the Chinese dramatic masterpiece Mudan Ting. It is found that while all three translators generally respect the integrity of the Chinese source text, they demonstrate different trajectories in terms of their translational dispositions. Specifically, while Zhang Guangqian shows evidence of attenuating sexually sensitive material in his translation, Wang Rongpei demonstrates a tendency to translate in a register that is closer to contemporary English vernacular than to the highly poetic register that characterizes the original Chinese play.
Cyril Birch differs from his two Chinese counterparts by faithfully preserving the poetic flavor of the erotic passages, to the extent that a foreign feel is often evident in his translation. The study also locates its findings against the background of previous studies, concluding that the general norm exhibited by the three translators in respect to the treatment of erotic passages in The Peony Pavilion, which is that of retention, departs from the norm of deletion/mitigation found in Chinese translations of English literature with sexual content. The paper hypothesizes that euphemism is not the universal norm adopted by translators in the treatment of sexually sensitive material in literature. Rather, the strategy used in translating eroticism is a function of the assumed acceptability of such material by the target readership.
ISSN: 0521-9744
EISSN: 1569-9668
DOI: 10.1075/babel.58.1.05lee
Rights: © Fédération des Traducteurs (fit) Revue Babel
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Babel. A definitive version was subsequently published in Babel, vol. 58, no. 1 (2012), DOI: 10.1075/babel.58.1.05lee. Please contact John Benjamins Publishing Company for permission to re-use or reprint the material in any form.
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