An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation


An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation

Volume 1: From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project

Martha Cheung Pui Yiu & Lin Wusun 2006

E-Book:  299 pages

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Download: An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation: Volume 1: From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project (Yiu & Wusun 2006).

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Translation has a long history in China. Down the centuries translators, interpreters, Buddhist monks, Jesuit priests, Protestant missionaries, writers, historians, linguists, and even ministers and emperors have all written about translation, and from an amazing array of perspectives. Such an exciting diversity of views, reflections and theoretical thinking about the art and business of translating is now brought together in a two-volume anthology. The first volume covers a time-frame from roughly the 5th century BCE to the twelfth century CE. It deals with translation in the civil and government context, and with the monumental project of Buddhist sutra translation. The second volume spans the 13th century CE to the Revolution of 1911, which brought an end to feudal China. It deals with the transmission of Western learning to China – a translation venture that changed the epistemological horizon and even the mindset of Chinese people. Comprising over 250 passages, most of which are translated into English for the first time here, the anthology is the first major source book to appear in English. It carries valuable primary material, allowing access into the minds of translators working in a time and space markedly different from ours, and in ways foreign or even inconceivable to us. The topics these writers discussed are familiar. But rather than a comfortable trip on well-trodden ground, the anthology invites us on an exciting journey of the imagination.


This anthology demonstrates more effectively than any history or theoretical treatise the utter falseness of the view that medieval China was a closed cultural universe. Here we find proof after scintillating proof of the creative ferment and wit that went into the huge endeavour of translating the Buddhist sutras into Chinese, over a period of almost a thousand years. Here, through the prism of the activity of translation, in these chiselled texts, so carefully chosen and meticulously presented and translated into English, we witness the intense empathy and imaginative energy that lay at the heart of the Chinese transmission of truth and enlightenment. We are left awaiting the second part of this superb anthology with impatience.

(John Minford) A(c)2004-2009 St Jerome Publishing Ltd

About the Author

Martha P.Y. Cheung received her PhD in English and American Literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury. She is now Professor and Head of the Translation Programme and Director of the Centre for Translation at Hong Kong Baptist University. She has translated many works of Chinese Literature into English, including the work of Han Shaogong (Homecoming? And Other Stories, 1992), Liu Sola (Blue Sky Green Sea and Other Stories, 1993), and Hong Kong poets such as Leung Ping Kwan (Foodscape, 1997 and Travelling with a Bitter Melon, 2002). She co-edited (with Jane C.C. Lai) and translated (with Jane C.C. Lai and others) An Oxford Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Drama (1997) and co-translated (with Jane C.C. Lai) 100 Excerpts from Zen Buddhist Texts (1997). She is Editor-in-Chief (Chinese translation) of the Oxford Children’s Encyclopedia (9 volumes, 2082 entries, 1998), and Editor-in-Chief (English translation) of An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica in Hong Kong (506 entries, 2004). She edited and translated (with Jane C.C. Lai and others) Hong Kong Collage: Contemporary Stories and Writing (1998). She has written articles on translation criticism, translation history, translation theory and the teaching of translation.

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