The pursuit of beauty by an aesthete: A study of Harold Acton's manuscripts of <em>Popular Chinese Plays</em>
Keywords:Harold Acton, Popular Chinese Plays, Genetic Studies of Translation, Translation Process, Translator's Creativity
This article examines Harold Acton’s translation of Popular Chinese Plays. It examines the modifications Acton made in the final polishing stage of his translation and explores possible linguistic, aesthetic and social considerations for such alterations. Four plays—Ch’un-hsiang Nao Hsueh ????, Yü Chou Fêng???, Lin Ch’ung Yeh Pên????, and Shih Hou Chi???—were selected for this research. Computerized data were analysed using Wordsmith 4.0. This article demonstrates that at this later stage of the translation’s genesis, Acton gives priority to the overall effectiveness and coherence of the translation while paying less attention to lexical and syntactical details. His corrections to the manuscript indicate that the translator departs from the source text, displaying more independence as a writer. The purpose of this analysis is to show how translators’ strategies can evolve during the genesis of a translation, thus complicating the common assumption that translators adopt a consistent “stance” when translating.
Acton, H. (1948). Memoirs of an aesthete. London: Methuen.
Acton, H. (1970). More memoirs of an aesthete. London: Methuen.
Acton, H. (1933–1941). Popular Chinese Plays. Unpublished manuscripts, Harold Acton Papers (GEN MSS 663, I. Translations and Writings, 1933–1941). General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Acton, H. (1939a). Ch’un-hsiang Nao Hsueh. T’ien Hsia Monthly, 8(4), 357–372.
Acton, H. (1939b). Lin Ch’ung Yeh Pên. T’ien Hsia Monthly, 9(2), 180–188.
Acton, H. (1939c). Shih Hou Chi. T’ien Hsia Monthly, 9(1), 86–112.
Arlington, L. C., & Acton, H. (1937). Famous Chinese plays. Peiping: Henri Vetch.
Austin, J. (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Blum-Kulka, S. (1986). Shift of cohesion and coherence in translation. In J. House & S. Blum-Kulka (Eds.), Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse and cognition in translation and second language acquisition studies (pp. 17–35). Tübingen: Gunter Narr.
Deane-Cox, S. (2014). Retranslation: Translation, literature and reinterpretation. London: Bloomsbury.
De Biasi, P.-M. (1996). What is a Literary draft?: Toward a functional typology of Genetic Documentation. Drafts: Yale French Studies, 89, 26–58.
Ferrer, D., & Groden, M. (2004). Introduction. In Deppman, J., Ferrer, D., & Groden, M. (Eds.), Genetic criticism: Texts and avant-textes (pp. 1-16). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gilberthorpe, J. (2015). Translation as genesis. Ticontre Teoria Testo Traduzione, 3, 141–153.
Guide to the Harold Acton Papers (GEN MSS 663) (n.d.). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.acton
Hay, L. (1977). Does ‘Text’ exist? Trans. Mattew Jocelyn & Hans Watter Gabler. Studies in Bibliography, 41, 64–76.
Hermans, T. (1999). Translation in systems: Descriptive and system-oriented approaches explained. Manchester: St. Jerome.
Hu, Z. F. (1997). Xiqu Wutai de Jiben Meixue Jingshen [Basic Aesthetic Traits of Chinese Stage]. Yishu Baijia, 1, 24–30.
Kʻung S. J. (1976). The Peach Blossom Fan (S.H. Chen & H. Acton, trans.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Passos, M-H. (2008). Da crítica genética à tradução literária: O caminho da (re)criação e da (re)escritura anotações para uma estória de amor de Caio Fernando Abreu. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Federal Do Do Rio Grande Do Sul University.
Pavis, P. (1989). Problems of translation for the stage: Intercultural and post–modern theatre. In H. Scolnicov & P. Holland (Eds.), The play out of context (pp. 25–45). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Poyatos, F. (2008). Textual translation and live translation: The total experience of nonverbal communication in literature, theatre and cinema. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Sanyal, J., Cutts, M., & Sarbjit, S. (2006). Indlish: The book for every English-speaking Indian. New Delhi: Viva.
Scott, C. (2006). Translating the literary: Genetic criticism text theory and poetry. In S. Bassnett & P. Bush (Eds.), The translator as a writer (pp. 106–117). London: Continuum.
Strunk, W., & White, E. B. (2007). The elements of style. New York: Penguin. (Original work published 1918)
Takahashi, H. (2012). A cognitive linguistic analysis of the English imperative: With special reference to Japanese imperatives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Toury, G. (1995/2012). Descriptive translation studies and beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Valéry, P. (1992). Variations on the eclogues. In J. Biguenet & R. Schulte (Eds.), Theories of translation: An anthology of essays from Dryden to Derrida (pp. 113–126). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
How to Cite
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).