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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 24, 2018

Translating iconicities of classical Chinese poetry

  • Guangxu Zhao EMAIL logo and Luise von Flotow
From the journal Semiotica


In the history of translating classical Chinese poetry, there are two kinds of translators. The first kind translate classical Chinese poetry “by way of intellectual, directional devices” (Yip, Wai-lim. 1969. Ezra Pound’s Cathay. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 16). What these translators are concerned with most is the coherence of their translations. They give little attention to the ideogrammic nature of Chinese characters. I call them traditional translators. These translators include those in the history of translating classical Chinese poetry from its beginning to the first decade of the twentieth century, although there are still some who translate classical Chinese poetry in this way later. The second kind of translator is highly interested in the images created by ideogrammic Chinese characters and tries to convey them in target language. We call them modernist translators. These translators are represented by some American modernist poets such as Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, Florence Ayscough, etc. From the point of view of iconicity, modernist translators’ contribution lies in their concern with the iconic characteristics of Chinese characters. But they did not give enough attention to syntactical iconicity and textual iconicity in classical Chinese poetry.


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Published Online: 2018-07-24
Published in Print: 2018-09-25

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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