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A Literary Translation as a Translation Project: A Case Study of Arthur Waley's Translation of Journey to the West

LUO, WENYAN (2018) A Literary Translation as a Translation Project: A Case Study of Arthur Waley's Translation of Journey to the West. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Over the last decade, researchers have been applying social theories to study translation as a social phenomenon. Actor-network theory (ANT) is one of the approaches adopted to explore translation production, as carried out in practical circumstances. Studies that focus on everyday translation activities that take place throughout a single translation project, leading to the production of an English translation of a Chinese novel, are few in number. In addition, few have adapted the ideas, concepts, and methodology of ANT to this type of study, and nonhuman actors have never been examined as active participants in translation production. Understanding of the development of translation projects, and translation actor and actions, is also still limited. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to attempt to fill in the above-mentioned blanks, by applying ANT, as the sole theory, to the study of the production of Monkey, translated from Journey to the West by Arthur Waley. A theoretical framework is built based on not only Latour's theories (1986, 1987, 1988a, 1988b, 1999, 2007), but also those of Callon (1986a, 1986b, 1999), and Law (1986a, 1986b, 1992).

The objectives of this thesis include 1) to test the applicability of ANT to translation production research, 2) to develop a system of methods that can guide and regulate the research, 3) to present an in-depth description of the translation project, which is as clear and comprehensive as possible, and 4) to go beyond the descriptive, by developing extensive discussions and analyses concerning the main translation actors, both human and nonhuman, and their actions which shaped the overall literary translation project.

The materials that uphold this thesis come from multiple sources. At the core, there are more than 200 letters exchanged between the main contributors of the translation project, which are available as the Records of George Allen & Unwin Ltd. in the University of Reading, Special Collections. Supporting materials include copies of the translation (Monkey) including the associated paratexts, articles written by the translator on translation, the autobiography of the publisher, advertisements and book reviews on the translation retrieved from Gale Primary Sources. Practical methods, such as web searches and archival research, are used to collect as much data regarding the production of the translation as possible. In addition, a system of methodological rules is adapted from the 'three principles' proposed by Callon (1986a) and the 'rules of method' put forward by Latour (1987), which is used to screen data, to judge if sufficient data was collected, and to determine how that data should be analysed.

The main body of the thesis is composed of six chapters. The aim of Chapter 1 is to provide an in-depth introduction to ANT and build a theoretical framework. In Chapter 2 a context is provided for the research by mainly explaining the reasons behind, and the process of, choosing Monkey as the translation under study, placing the proposed research within the existing literature, and reviewing the research methodology. Chapter 3 comprises a thick description of the translation project, focusing on its major contributors and its different phases. The two chapters that follow, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5, consist of discussions concerning the identified translation actors, and in particular, how their roles and positions were continually (re)defined by their actions throughout the translation production process. The last chapter explores the dynamics that empowered the translation production network, through categorising the interactions of translation actors according to four moments of translationANT (Callon, 1986a), and in addition, the modes of interessement, i.e. the particular methods or devices used to persuade actors to join the project, which are analysed based on Latour's modes (1987).

The main findings of this study contain 1) a system of methods can be established based on previous studies conducted by ANT theorists and translation researchers. 2) The translation project is discovered to be long-term, with over 25 years of recorded history, large-scale, i.e. with numerous people and resources involved and at least 25 versions of the translation as the end products, and multi-faceted, i.e. with no fewer than 8 phases of production which often overlap with each other. 3) The translation actors were heterogeneous, including humans, example of which are the translator, publisher, and designer, and nonhumans, such as the war, letters, and a system of texts. Some of these actors have not been identified before. 4) Actions frequently defined actors, as well as their roles and positions in translation. The roles played by an actor in the single translation project were often multiple and their positions within the network constantly changing. 5) Claims made by Law, an ANT theorist, that control is a process instead of a result, and that successful long distance control depends on a triad of professionals, inscriptions/texts and devices (Law, 1986a, 1986b) are also true for this study. 6) More than 200 translationsANT occurred throughout the translation project, and moreover, the four moments of translationANT developed in a variety of patterns instead of taking place sequentially (cf. Callon 1986a). 7) The modes of translating actors - modes of interessement - discerned in this project, differ in various ways and degrees from the existing modes (see Latour, 1987), but nevertheless increase the variety of the existing modes. In view of the above, therefore, 8) ANT, as a social theory, is perfectly applicable to study the practical circumstances and evolution of the production of the translation of Monkey.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:actor-network theory, translation production, Arthur Waley, Journey to the West, (non)human actors
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Oct 2018 14:19

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