Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Readership in Shaping Fu Donghua's Translation of Gone with the Wind

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Readership in Shaping Fu Donghua's Translation of Gone with the Wind

Article excerpt


This thesis intends to introduce a few key concepts of the reception theory like Jauss's "horizon of expectations" and Iser's "the implied reader" and apply them to justify, in terms of the translation strategies, the first Chinese translation of the novel Gone With the Wind by Fu Donghua, which was once popular among readers at that time but later on received bitter criticism from scholars in the translation domain.

Key words: Horizon of expectations; The implied reader; Reader; Translation strategy


The conventional study of translation has mainly concentrated on the pursuit of the answer to the seemingly simple question "what constitutes a good or successful translation?"

Since translator Yan Fu proposed the principle of "faithfulness, expressiveness and elegance" a hundred years ago, many scholars engaged in translation studies have presented a large number of papers for the discussion of the criteria for evaluating a translation. It is considered foredoomed and self-evident for translators to be faithful to both the original author and the original work. The so-called "one servant with two masters" is a vivid expression of the relationship among the original author, the translator and the reader. The opinion, featured by the emphasis on the translator's faithfulness to the original, has exercised far-reaching influence on translation theory and practice.

In recent years, the issue of the translator's role has become a common topic which interest both theorists and translators. With a thorough study of the translator's characters in them, the subjectivity of the translator has been more recognized and highlighted. As a result, the translator is liberated from the status as a servant but is identified as a dynamic subject which affects other components in translation practice. Some theorists have gone so far as to propose that the translator is endowed with the privilege of rewriting and manipulating the original.

It is a regret that during the discussions one important element is somehow excluded or at least is ignored. Of course, mainly due to the influence of some foreign theories such as Eugene Nida's "dynamic equivalence" theory, there are indeed many scholars who hold that the translators should be accountable to readers in general and the position of readers should be highlighted. However, compared with the mainstream study of the role of the original and the translator, the research on readership appears to be somehow marginalized in translation studies. Since the process of translation generally consists of three basic elements: The original text, the translator and the reader (of the translation), it seems neither reasonable nor practical to attach the only importance to the first two elements while overlooking the last one.

In this thesis, the writer would like to conduct a study on the above issue by drawing on some essential notions of some theories, represented by reception theory. Certainly, there have been quite a few articles written on the translation study by appealing to reception theory after it was introduced into China in the early 1980s. For instance, in the Chinese Translators Journal, the first article related to reception aesthetics (namely reception theory) was published in the sixth issue of 1989 with a title of Thoughts After Translating 'The Sky Is Gray'. Just like the functionalist Skopostheorie which was once misunderstood as unsuitable for literary translation, the cases of applying reception theory into literary translation are fairly rare and infrequent. The present thesis intends, in a tentative way, to interpret the first Chinese version of the American novel Gone with the Wind primarily from a historical view, by drawing on some essential conceptions of reception theory. Naturally, it is not in the least the writer's purpose to put forward a so-called reader-centered translation principle, but it is just an attempt of probing into a typical case of literary translation to justify the recognition of readership in translation. …

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