Translation, Storytelling and Multimodality

Doloughan, Fiona (2016). Translation, Storytelling and Multimodality. Interférences littéraires/Literaire interferenties, 19 pp. 107–122.



The work of Chinese-born British writer and film-maker, Xiaolu Guo, has been characterized to date by a focus on translation, broadly construed. Her “breakthrough” novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (2007), drew (retrospectively) on the process of language acquisition to construct the consciousness and experience of a Chinese learner of English as she interacts with her new cultural and social environment, in a hybrid narrative form that combines conceptual and narrative modes. Guo’s 2014 novel I Am China takes further her interest in translation as a mode of storytelling and a means of highlighting the problematics of travelling texts as well as movement of ideas and people across languages and cultures. This paper will reflect on Guo’s narrative modus operandi in relation to her focus on the possibilities and limitations of translation, both fictive and “real”, as a mode of critique and invention. It will situate Guo’s translational impulses within the context of discussions of pseudotranslation and the “translational turn” in the Humanities more broadly.

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