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Monkey and the Novelization of Xiyouji

Posted By admin On 12:00 AM In Past Events 2018-19 | Comments Disabled

2017/2018 School of Chinese Research Student Seminar

Monkey and the Novelization of Xiyouji

蔡燕賓 Cai Yanbin

May 25, 2018 (Friday); 5:30-6:45pm
Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: English


Is zhanghui xiaoshuo really novel? When modern scholars keep returning to the question, their efforts of justification points to other possibilities in the cross-cultural reading of zhanghui xiaoshuo, especially before the xiaoshuo/novel alignment established. As the most successful English translation of Xiyouji, Arthur Waley’s MonkeyA Chinese Folk Novel provides an intriguing example of how one of the best pre-modern Chinese xiaoshuo is novelized. This talk reviews the intertwining process between the cross-cultural xiaoshuo/novel alignment and the birth of the Chinese national literary ecology. In the early years of the twentieth century, Hu Shi called for vernacular Chinese to be recognized as the national literary language, bestowing per-modern vernacular xiaoshuo a canonical status unprecedented. This position is consolidated with the national history on Chinese xiaoshuo written by Lu Xun, their combined efforts forming a link between the Chinese literary term with its counterpart in the English language and culture. The final alignment was completed in translation. Fine specimens in the xiaoshuo genre were translated into English, among which Waley’s rewriting on Xiyouji becomes an unparalleled success. I will focus on how Waley’s strategies transform the hundred-chaptered xiaoshuo in the target language, especially with deliberate abridgment and careful selection of texts for translation. With his effort, not only is Xiyouji novelized in Monkey, this reincarnation of the Chinese xiaoshuo also obtains an independent literary life as a distinguished English novel.


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