A Study on the Different Original Versions Used in the Translation of Hong Lou Meng by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang





fluid text, Hong Lou Meng, original versions used in translation, Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang


Hong Lou Meng is a classical Chinese novel with worldwide influence. It is a canon with a fluid text—the multiple versions of the novel; as a result, has posed huge challenges to translators. The fluid text is also the source of conflicting statements about the original versions used by Yang Xianyi (1915-2009) and his wife Gladys Yang (1919-1999) in their translation of the novel. Different parties involved in the translation, including Yang Xianyi—the translator, Wu Shichang—the then English editor, and the Foreign Languages Press—the publisher of the Yangs’ complete translation Hong Lou Meng, reported differently on the original versions. Due to its prominent importance in Chinese culture, Hong Lou Meng represents the status quo of Chinese literature in the global community. The Yangs’ translation of Hong Lou Meng in 120 chapters, being one of the two published complete English translations of the novel, has been an important focus of study in both literature and translation. However, the diverse narrations on the original versions have not been resolved so far, and the identity of the original versions remains ambiguous, therefore, the study of the Yangs’ translation has been impacted and mitigated. This work applies the methods of close textual reading and collation comparing the Yangs’ translation excerpts published earlier in Chinese Literature with their later complete version of the novel; associating the translation practice with the then social background, therefore establishing the identity of the original versions used by the Yangs at different stages of their translation. This paper explores the factors that have influenced the Yangs’ translation of Hong Lou Meng, as well as the impact of these factors on the significance of the novel.


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