Paper Republic: Chinese Literature Matters

The Creation of Melodrama and the Intensification of Emotions: Omission and Addition in Zhou Shoujuan's Translation of Short Stories on Love

By Helen Wang, published

Paper by Liu Qian, University of Oxford
British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) Annual Conference, 3-5 September 2012.
Full list of abstracts here

Abstract: In Zhou Shoujuan's translation of short stories on love, he adopted two translation strategies, i.e. the omission and addition of certain parts in short stories. The parts that were omitted were mostly psychological activities, philosophical thinking, or ironical remarks made by the original authors to create humour or as a result of cynicism. By omitting these parts, Zhou rendered his characters less sophisticated and more flat, while making the story development more abrupt and less logically coherent. The parts that were added were lavish descriptions of the images of characters, particularly the beauty of female protagonists, and expression of powerful emotions. He was lavish in his use of hyperbole and metaphor when depicting the utmost beauty of females, and also in his use of poetic and flowery language when expressing emotions. As a result of these two kinds of translation strategies, Zhou was capable of achieving a melodramatic effect in his translation, much more so than the original works. The tragedies were foregrounded, the ending became more surprising, love and horrible death were intertwined, as a result of which an intensified emotion was called forth not only in the translator himself, but also in the readers. I believe while Zhou sought to create melodramatic stories, he brought a kind of lavishly emotional literature into the horizon of ordinary readers and his contemporary writers, and with the huge popularity of his works, cast significant influence on modern Chinese fiction writing. Thus, the thread of a sentimental and emotionally developed literature eventually began to emerge.


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