Piracy and the commodification of originality in translation
The Thorn Birds in the Chinese literary marketplace
Translation is often considered in relation to the original, as if the original were always singular, fixed, stable, and incontestable. Readers, translators, and publishers, however, may approach the concept of original(ity) from diverse perspectives, conditioned by specific sociocultural contexts. Using Chinese translations of the Australian novel The Thorn Birds as a case study, this article situates its examination of original(ity) in the context of Chinese publishing industries, in which copyright laws and piracy unusually co-exist. The resultant tension between authorized publishers and counterfeiters gives rise to a situation where originality is highly commodified and thus frequently reconstructed. Translation research on original(ity), therefore, must move beyond legal and ethical dimensions to include economic, political, and historical contexts. Original(ity), which may be considered a collective property of both the original(s) and the translation(s), has to be constantly reinterpreted in a given sociocultural context at each new historical moment.
Keywords: copyright, piracy, The Thorn Birds , literary translation, original(ity), publishing industries
- (Re)Contextualizing the concept of original(ity)
- Copyright for foreign works in China before 1992
- Change in copyright policy in 1992 and the visibility of translators in China
- Piracy continues: Commodification of originality in literary translation
- Packaging translations: Recreating originality as a counter-piracy technique
- Concluding remarks
Published online: 30 March 2022
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