Masterclass in Chinese to English Literary Translation

The Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation research programme was delighted to host acclaimed literary translator Nicky Harman to give a masterclass on Chinese to English literary translation. During the course of the evening, we focused on unpicking a single paragraph by author Jia Pingwa. Concentrating on the final paragraph of Jia's 2007 novel Happy (《高兴》), we looked at the process of a working translator, with an eye to issues particular to Chinese-English translation. Through examining both the translator's drafts and and her final version, we discussed the practical problems of translation, starting with sentence structure, terminology and (nick)names. Nicky then unpicked the cultural references, both implicit and explicit, and finally considered the author’s intentions for this paragraph. The conversation then opened up for discussion, as the translator posed the question of whether her translation succeeded in recreating the same effect in English.

All were welcome. No knowledge of Chinese was necessary. A few short preparatory readings were circulated in advance to facilitate audience participation. Attendees were expected to register on eventbrite in order to receive the introductory readings.