“Struggling to Translate”: Jenn Marie Nunes’s Retranslation of Li Qingzhao’s “Ru Meng Ling” as Feminist Translation


The interplay between gender studies and translation studies has expanded the gender dynamics in translation beyond the plane of textual materiality. The intersectional studies of gender and translation acquire a more symbolic role of representing the gender structure between the source text that occupies a masculine, privileged position and the translated one that inhabits a feminine “wild zone.” The feminist translation discourse reimagines the institutionalized power imbalance between the dominant, visible, masculine figure (the author) and the “muted,” invisible, feminine figure (the translator). In making translation an act of feminization, the translator works against the preconceived idea that translation is a derivative and secondary counterpart to its original, primary source text. This article analyzes Jenn Marie Nunes’s retranslation (2019) of “Ru Meng Ling” 如夢令 (Like a Dream) by Li Qingzhao 李清照 (1084-1155), based on the three feminist translation techniques devised by Luise von Flotow––prefacing and footnoting, supplementing, and hijacking. From the purview of contemporary feminist translation, Jenn Marie Nunes’s retranslation challenges the hierarchical binaries between author and translator, which all the more renders her creative work distinctively different from the preceding scholastic translations by Stephen Owen (1997) and Ronald Egan (2019). Nunes creates a generative system of “double feminization” for co-authorship and moves an extra step to mobilize the readers in her reimagination of the historical poem. The feminist translator brings her retranslation out of translational invisibility and puts it in explicit dialogues with the source text and implicit conversations with preceding translations of that same one.

Author Information
Camellia Pham, Dartmouth College, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2023
Stream: Literary Studies / All genres/ Theory

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon