SEIS Academic Forum Series (No. 743)
Forum on Translation Studies
Purpose-Driven Texts and Paratexts: Three Xixiang ji Retranslations in Recent Decades
Associate Professor at the Department of Applied English at I-Shou University
Ranked among the top three classics of world drama (Xu, 2000/2008, p. 26), the canonic status of Xixiang ji 西廂記 has attracted more translations than any other plays from China. This study examines three distinctive English translations in recent decades: The Story of the Western Wing (1991/1995) by top-ranking Western sinologists Stephen H. West and Wilt L. Idema in US, Romance of the Western Bower (2000/2008) by leading literary translator Xu Yuanchong in China, and The West Wing (2008), arguably the first intersemiotic translation for stage performance, by Grant Shen in Singapore. Conscious of previous translations, these retranslators promote the particular values of the drama that they cherish, evident in their texts, paratexts, and ST choice. West-Idema’s emphasis on scholarly semantic correspondence defeats the staging purpose of the original. Xu’s effort in trumpeting the elegance of Chinese classics divorces his rendition from the colloquial and vigorous zaju tradition of ST. And Shen’s imitation of ST musicality and his pandering to audience taste result in distorted stage scrip. This study, by critically comparing and contrasting three retranslations via the interrelation between their texts and functional paratexts, may also help to reveal the drama’s richness and nuances that have been missed or suppressed by any one rendition.
About the speaker:
Ann-Marie Hsiung is Associate Professor at the Department of Applied English at I-Shou University, Kaohsiung. She was Assistant Professor at Center for Chinese Language and Culture, Singapore Nanyang Technological University, prior to current position. She obtained PhD of East Asian Language and Literature and MA of Comparative Literature from US. Her recent research focuses on theatre translation. She has served as editorial committee of the translation Journal—Lingual, Literary, and Cultural Translation.