Book review
Huan Saussy. Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out
New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. xii, 150 pp.

Reviewed by Paul J. D’Ambrosio

Publication history
Table of contents

Translation is often concerned with discovering or creating equivalent expressions, phrases, or terms in a target language, although one can object that equivalence outside of the simplest terms is rarely possible. We could, however, view the issue from a different angle. Translation can also be viewed as not so much creating new expressions as discovering them. In his Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out Haun Saussy takes this perspective. He defines his interest as “revising the sequence in which the original necessarily precedes the translation” so as to explore “translations that do not so much make an expression in the target language as find it” (2). This is the “translation-and-citation dynamic” that Saussy argues “cuts across much of what we know as translation and may, if we attend to it, deeply modify the preconceptions of translation theory” (5). The Zhuangzi, a Chinese classic which was authored and edited by many hands (though often taken as a single work), is used as the main example to explore this approach. Indeed, as Saussy convincingly argues, the Zhuangzi was a mediator for all sorts of translation throughout Chinese history. This teaches us not only about the history of Chinese translation, but about the Zhuangzi and the very nature of translation itself. Saussy ultimately ends up arguing for an unconventional approach to both appreciating translation and doing it.

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