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Strong Interpretations in Translating Classical Chinese Poetry: Against the Grammar-Translation Method and “Western Branch Orthodoxy”

Date: April 7
Time: 2 pm
Location: LNCO 2110

Are there better and worse ways to translate classical Chinese poetry into English? Building on my previous publications, in this talk I will argue that the baseline for translating premodern Chinese poetry into English is “strong interpretation.” Introducing the history of debates around classical Chinese poetry translation alongside a look at how other classical literatures—namely Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit—are translated, I will critique one of the dominant modes of translating classical Chinese into English. Since the baseline of translation is strong interpretation, the translations that are most successful are the translations that own up to their interpretations, rather than try to conceal them under the pretense of objectivity.

Lucas Klein (PhD Yale) is a father, writer, translator, and associate professor of Chinese at Arizona State University. He is executive editor of the Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature (Oxford), author of The Organization of Distance (Brill, 2018), co-editor of Chinese Poetry and Translation (Amsterdam, 2019), and translator Mang Ke (Zephyr, 2018), Li Shangyin(NYRB, 2018), Duo Duo (Yale, 2021), and Xi Chuan (New Directions, 2012, 2022).

Last Updated: 3/23/22