TM2: Mengying Jiang

Female Voices in Translation: A Case Study of Three English Versions of Zhang Jie’s Love Must Not Be Forgotten (1979)

Mengying Jiang

Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand)

Abstract: Contemporary Chinese women writers have long been underrepresented in English translation. However, there is one period in which the English-speaking world showed considerable attention to the translation and introduction of their works. From the 1980s to the early 1990s, translation agents from mainland China, Hong Kong and the Anglophone world were actively engaged in translating and promoting contemporary Chinese women writers, thus contributing to what can be regarded as the liveliest translational landscape for Chinese women writers to date.

By analyzing which works were translated, how they were anthologized and received through literary criticism and book reviews, this paper aims at re-contextualizing the socio-cultural background wherein these authors were presented to the English-speaking world and at uncovering the translational dynamics for women writers. I argue that the translation and reception of Chinese women writers during that period faced a dual patriarchal control: the Chinese nationalist agenda imposed on the writers’ feminist preoccupations, and the slant imposed by western ideology on the Chinese politics represented in their texts. This seemingly thriving translation turn for Chinese women writers was in fact still subject to a voyeuristic gaze that positioned China as the subaltern other.

This paper employs theoretical tools derived from reception theory and Bourdieu’s field theory to analyze three English versions of Love Must Not Be Forgotten, a seminal work by Zhang Jie, one of China’s pioneering feminist writers. It explores how different translation agents have shaped the translation and reception of the same text with different purposes, with special emphasis on the role played by women translators in disseminating female voices from “minor” cultures.

Key words: Translation and reception of contemporary Chinese women writers; Zhang Jie’s Love Must Not Be Forgotten; translation agents; women translators; female voices from “minor” cultures

Bio: Mengying Jiang is a PhD candidate in Literary Translation with the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University of Wellington. She holds an MA in English Language and Literature from Shanghai International Studies University (China) and an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Leicester (UK). Her main research interests are the study of literary translation from Chinese into English; cultural and sociological approaches to literary translation studies; the role of paratexts in literary translation.