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Texts, paratexts, and contexts: a comparative study of English translations of the classic Chinese novel Jin Ping Mei
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posted on 28.05.2020by Qi, Lintao
This thesis investigates the English translations and adaptations of the sixteenth century classic Chinese novel Jin Ping Mei. Acclaimed the ‘No.1 Marvellous Book’ of the Ming dynasty, Jin Ping Mei was banned soon after its appearance, due to the inclusion of graphically explicit sexual descriptions. So far there have been nearly a dozen English adaptations and translations of the novel. Working within the framework of Descriptive Translation Studies, this thesis provides a translational history of Jin Ping Mei in English, supported by various paratexts, including book covers, reviews, and archival materials. It also conducts textual comparisons to uncover the translation norms at work in each of the only two complete translations, namely The Golden Lotus by Clement Egerton and The Plum in the Golden Vase by David Roy, respectively. The notions of agency, habitus and capital are introduced for the examination of the transference of linguistic, literary and cultural aspects of the two translations. The project is the first systematic research effort on the English Translations of Jin Ping Mei. Given its pioneering status and interdisciplinary nature, the data, method and findings of this thesis will potentially enrich the fields of Translation Studies, Comparative Literature and Chinese Studies.