Publication details [#352]

Li, Dian. 1998. Translating Bei Dao: translatability as reading and critique. Babel 44 (4) : 289–303.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
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Source language
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Person as a subject
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It is suggested that Bei Dao’s translatability is symptomatic of the fact that his poetry is “World Poetry” and thus lacks grounding in China’s history. While Bei Dao’s reputation is rising in the West and his works continue to be translated into many Western languages, it is time to treat the questions regarding Bei Dao’s translatability seriously and conceptualise it in the context of modern Chinese poetry, which is a history of rejuvenation through the translation of Western poetry. The immediate origin of the poet’s translatability resides in a literary language called the “translation style” in the late 1960s, which served as a protest against the language of authority in Mao’s China. The paper problematizes the use of translatability as a way of reading and critiquing Bei Dao’s poetry. When one says Bei Dao’s poetry translates well into English, it is precisely because it has been translated with all its gaps, errors, and ambiguities, all of which are abundant in Bei Dao’s English texts.
Source : Based on abstract in journal