Translation as a Motor of Critique and Invention in Contemporary Literature: The Case of Xiaolu Guo

Doloughan, Fiona (2017). Translation as a Motor of Critique and Invention in Contemporary Literature: The Case of Xiaolu Guo. In: Gilmour, Rachael and Steinitz, Tamar eds. Multilingual Currents in Literature, Translation and Culture. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 150–167.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/Multilingual-Currents-in...

Abstract

The term ‘translation’ has come under increased pressure in recent times from a number of different disciplinary directions (e.g. Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Comparative and World Literature) including from within Translation Studies itself (Gentzler, 2011, Bassnett, 2012). Its default meaning of linguistic and cultural transfer from language A to language B or from ‘source’ to ‘target’ text has been interrogated in the light of a nexus of arguably related phenomena: the apparent deterritorialization (James, 2008) or relocation of English (Saraceni, 2010) and the rise of English as a lingua franca; an increasingly translingual orientation to language practices (Canagarajah, 2013) and the construction of social and literary identities (Kellman, 2000; Steinitz 2013).

Against the backdrop of shifting conceptions of translation,this chapter will focus on the various uses to which translation is put in the work of Chinese-born writer and film-maker, Xiaolu Guo. While reference will be made to her 2007 novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers in which she playfully represents the sometimes painful process of language acquisition, the chapter will concentrate on her 2014 work, I Am China, a novel in which translation plays a key role in driving the plot, serving as a vehicle of both critique and invention.

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