Translating Hemingway: A Case of Cultural Politics


My presentation will start with a brief translation history of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms in France, Italy, Spain, and Japan, showing that, due to the novel’s anti-war and anti-Fascist nature, in many cases its translations were shaped not only by cultural and literary factors, but also by socio-political and even economic factors. Following the introduction, based on Anthony Pym’s “humanizing” (agent-based) approach to translation history, I will explore the parts many Chinese publishers, translators, and even editors played in the novel’s translation history in the first half of the 20th century, with the intention to show why, compared to Remarque’s Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front), this novel was translated quite belatedly and with fewer translations produced than expected. By reviewing related historical facts, it could be contended that, at least two Chinese translations of A Farewell to Arms were made for the reason that Hemingway was identified by many Chinese intellectuals, even communists, as an anti-war and anti-Fascist “leftist writer,” and even the allegedly pro-communist scholar-official John K. Fairbank was involved for some time in a translation project of Hemingway’s works. Hopefully this study has the potential to show that at least a part of the translation history of Hemingway in China has been determined by Lawrence Venuti’s so-called “cultural politics of translation,” in which translation process is
shaped by political agenda and ideology, not just by translators’ poetic judgment.

Author Information
Richard Rong-bin Chen, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2020
Stream: Literature

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon