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Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Front Liter Stud Chin    2012, Vol. 6 Issue (3) : 393-409     https://doi.org/10.3868/s010-001-012-0023-2
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“Literal Translation” and the Materiality of Language: Lu Xun as a Case
Wenjin Cui()
Department of East Asian Studies, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA
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Abstract

With his insistence upon the literal rendering in Chinese of foreign texts, especially regarding syntax, Lu Xun’s understanding of “literal translation” strikes a rather distinct note in the modern Chinese literary scene. The intention behind this method, namely, the aim to “retain the tone of the original,” reveals a generative perception of language that takes language as not just the bearer of the already existent thought, but as the formative element of thought that has meaning in itself. This paper seeks to delineate the structural constitution of the materiality of language as grasped by Lu Xun. By comparing the notion of the “tone” to Wilhelm von Humboldt’s notion of the “inner form of language” and situating it within the genealogy of qi, as well as tracing its link with Zhang Taiyan’s idea of “zhiyan,” I will attempt to reveal the philosophical and historical basis of Lu Xun’s principle of “literal translation” and its significance for Chinese literary modernity in general.

Keywords literal translation      materiality of language      tone      inner form of language      qi      zhiyan     
Corresponding Authors: Wenjin Cui,Email:cwenjin@nyu.edu   
Issue Date: 05 September 2012
 Cite this article:   
Wenjin Cui. “Literal Translation” and the Materiality of Language: Lu Xun as a Case[J]. Front Liter Stud Chin, 2012, 6(3): 393-409.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/flsc/EN/10.3868/s010-001-012-0023-2
http://journal.hep.com.cn/flsc/EN/Y2012/V6/I3/393
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