Translating China for Western Readers

Reflective, Critical, and Practical Essays

Edited by Ming Dong Gu
With Rainer Schulte

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438455105, 337 pages, January 2016
Hardcover : 9781438455112, 337 pages, January 2015

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: Translating China for Western Readers in the Context of Globalization
Ming Dong Gu
Part I. Reflections on Conceptual Issues of Translation
1. Hermeneutic Principles of Understanding as the Logical Foundation of Translation
Chung-ying Cheng

2. Does the Metaphor Translate?
Martin Svensson Ekström
3. Translating Chinese Literature: Decanonization and Recanonization
Wang Ning
4. Readerly Translation and Writerly Translation: For a Theory of Translation That Returns to Its Roots
Ming Dong Gu
Part II. The Art and Craft of Translation
5. Translating Texts in Chinese History and Philosophy
Michael Nylan
6. Translating Medieval Chinese Panegryic Poetry
Fusheng Wu
7. Real-m-ization and Eventualization: A Phenomenological Approach to Poetic Translation
Liu Huawen
8. Internet and Electronic Resources for Translation of Premodern Chinese Texts and How to Use Them
Richard John Lynn
Part III. Critical Assessment of Translation Practice
9. Translators in Brackets, or, Rambling Thoughts on Translation Work
Wolfgang Kubin
10. Translating the Tang Poets: A Personal View by a Western Poet and Reader
Frederick Turner

11. The Three Paradoxes of Literary Translation: On Translating Chinese Poetry for Form
Tony Barnstone
12. Aesthetic Fidelity versus Linguistic Fidelity: A Reassessment of Chinese Translations of Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell
Yuehong Chen
Afterword: Reflections on Reading the Collected Essays
Dennis M. Katz
A Reference List of Further Readings
Daisy Qin Guo

Explores the challenges of translating Chinese works for Western readers, particularly premodern texts.


This book explores the challenges of translating Chinese works, particularly premodern ones, for a contemporary Western readership. Reacting against the "cultural turn" in translation studies, contributors return to the origin of translation studies: translation practice. By returning to the time-honored basics of linguistics and hermeneutics, the book inquires into translation practice from the perspective of reading and reading theory. Essays in the first section of the work discuss the nature, function, rationale, criteria, and historical and conceptual values of translation. The second section focuses on the art and craft of translation, offering practical techniques and tips. Finally, the third section conducts critical assessments of translation policy and practice as well as formal and aesthetic issues. Throughout, contributors explore how a translation from the Chinese can read like a text in the Western reader's own language.

Ming Dong Gu is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of Chinese Theories of Fiction: A Non-Western Narrative System, also published by SUNY Press. Rainer Schulte is Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Center for Translation Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of Geography of Translation and Interpretation: Traveling Between Languages.


"…a fascinating compendium of insights and anecdotes into the challenges of translating early China. … a much-needed contribution to a vital task that Anglophone philosophy is only just beginning to confront systematically—bringing more work by Chinese thinkers to an English language audience. The theoretical and practical difficulties inherent in such a challenge deserve wider debate, and this volume commendably serves that end." — Dao