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Power and the translator: Joseph Conrad in Chinese translations during the Republican era (1912-1937)

Lee, K.-K.G.; (2010) Power and the translator: Joseph Conrad in Chinese translations during the Republican era (1912-1937). Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

When he died in 1924, Joseph Conrad, who was named a ‘racist’ by Chinua Achebe (1977) and defended by others as taking an anti-imperialist stance (Brantlinger 1996), was a total stranger to the Chinese readers, whose country was made a semi-colony in the late nineteenth century. In the 1930s, however, four of his works were translated and published within four years, all commissioned by the Committee on Editing and Translation funded by the China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture. The thesis investigates the Chinese translations of Conrad’s works published during the Republican Era in 1912-1937, exploring the power relations between the translators as agents and the social structure in which they operated. The thesis is divided into six chapters. After the introduction, I describe, in Chapter 2, the translators’ practice in terms of their narrating positions on the textual and paratextual levels as reflected in the translations of the sea stories borrowing analytical models on narrative discourse devised by Gérard Genette and Roger Fowler. I proceed in Chapter 3 with an account of the commissioner, tracking down the organization of the China Foundation and the Committee on Editing and Translation which initiated the project of translating World Classics (including Conrad’s works) in the 1930s. In Chapter 4, I reassess the notion of ‘faithfulness’, a key concept in the discourse of translation in theory and criticism at the time. Using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice as the theoretical framework, I argue that the practice of the translators, who created the image of Conrad through their translations, can be explained with reference to their relations with other agents (commissioners, theorists, critics, etc.) occupying different positions within the intellectual field, and the habitus which mediated their position and the social structure they were engaged in Chapter 5, followed by the conclusion.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Power and the translator: Joseph Conrad in Chinese translations during the Republican era (1912-1937)
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Inter Cultural Studies

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