Volume 13, No. 1 
January 2009

 
  Yiping Wu  Wen-chun Tsai

 
 

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  Translator Profiles
On the Name of God, Jim Knopf, Passion, the Mind, and Being a Translator
by Jost Zetzsche

 
  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
 
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by Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas

 
  Technical Translation
Recursos en línea relacionados con el ámbito marítimo y naval
M.™ Blanca Mayor Serrano, Ph.D.

 
  Financial Translation
La ironía en el discurso financiero y su traducción
José Ramón Calvo Ferrer

 
  Medical Translation
The Bellicose Character of Medical Prose
by Rafael A. Rivera, M.D., FACP

 
  Cultural Aspects of Translation
The Challenges of Translating "I" in Japanese Academic Texts
by Stephen Pihlaja

 
  Nuts and Bolts of Translation
English Phrasal Verbs in Bilingual English-Arabic Dictionaries
by Dr. Ali Yunis Aldahesh
 
Twelve Ways to Enhance Translation Quality
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Der portugiesische persönliche Infinitiv und seine Übersetzungsmöglichkeiten
Katrin Herget, Holger Proschwitz

 
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Translating Publicity Texts in the Light of the Skopos Theory: Problems and Suggestions
by Wang Baorong

 
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reseñada por Cristina Plaza Lara

 
His Majesty, The Interpreter: The Fascinating World of Simultaneous Translation by Ewandro Magalh„es Jr.
reviewed by Arlene M. Kelly


 
  Literary Translation
Reading and Translating Kate Chopin's The Awakening as a Non-Feminist Text
by Yi-ping Wu and Wen-chun Tsai

 
  Translator Education
How to Avoid Errors in Translation from English
by Nitaya Suksaeresup and Tipa Thep-Ackrapong

 
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  Translation Journal


Literary Translation
 

Reading and Translating Kate Chopin's The Awakening
as a Non-Feminist Text

by Yi-ping Wu and Wen-chun Tsai
Department of English
National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, Taiwan1


Abstract

Kate Chopin's The Awakening has been received as a feminist text. Although this literary work has a distinguished reputation all over the world, in Taiwan its popularity and potential readers mostly remain in academia. The available Chinese translation of this novel was translated in Taiwan by Ing-mei Yang and published by fembooks publishing house & bookstore which is noted for its promotion of feminism. The publication of Yang's translation by fembooks may attract readers who are particularly interested in feminist issues and thereby limits and excludes those who are indifferent to feminism. To make this novel more accessible to the general readership, we take a non-feminist approach to interpreting and translating this novel. In this paper, feminist translation strategies proposed by Françoise Massardier-Kenney are first applied to discuss feminist translation strategies adopted by Yang to commence translating this novel as a feminist text. In order to produce a translation from a non-feminist perspective, we consider Eugene Nida's dynamic equivalence a suitable translation strategy for it advocates a type of free translation that allows any necessary linguistic adjustments. In addition, a non-feminist interpretation is offered: Edna is not seen as a new woman who has a great desire to pursue true love, happiness, and freedom, but someone who sensually awakens to find herself suffering increasingly from an unbeatable sense of solitude. In order to achieve the intended effect, particular wordings are employed to explicitly accentuate Edna's sensual awakening and also to amplify the solitude that forces Edna to end her life so that the reader will gain a different appreciation of this novel.

Keywords: feminist translation strategies, Eugene Nida's dynamic equivalence model, non-feminist interpretation and translation, Kate Chopin, The Awakening


ate Chopin's The Awakening2 has a distinguished reputation all over the world. The currently available Chinese translation of this novel in Taiwan was published in 1996 by fembooks publishing house & bookstore which is noted for its support of feminist movement and endorsement of feminism in Taiwan. The establishment of this bookstore is worth mentioning. fembooks was established on April 17, 1994 by the advocators who supported the Awakening Foundation, the first feminist organization founded in Taiwan in 1982. Being the first feminist publisher in Taiwan, its mission is to enhance people's awareness of women's issues and provide a medium for feminist texts and writers to be known by the public. fembooks has created a legacy for women and all the people who believe in women's creativity and gender equality (http://www.fembooks.com.tw/indexaboutus.php?showarea=1_2).

In order to produce a translation that can attract the attention of a broader range of Taiwanese readers, we propose a non-feminist approach to translating this novel.
Received as a feminist text, The Awakening is the first novel fembooks published. Since fembooks is known for its advocacy of feminism, the translation of The Awakening is likely to be motivated by a cultural agenda in which a particular ideology guides the choice of the development of translation strategy. When the translator, Ing-mei Yang3, commences translating this novel, it is inevitable for her to approach and promote this novel with a feminist sentiment. The publication of Yang's translation by fembooks may attract readers who are particularly interested in feminist issues and thereby limits and excludes those who are indifferent to feminism. For this reason, there is a niche for retranslation. As Lawrence Venuti in "Retranslations: The Creation of Value" points out, "the choice of the text for retranslation is premised on an interpretation that differs from that inscribed in a previous version, which is shown to be no longer acceptable because it has come to be judged as insufficient in some sense" (2004:26).

Since Chopin's The Awakening has been received as a feminist text, its popularity and potential readers mostly remain in academia in Taiwan. To make this novel more accessible to the general readership, we take a non-feminist approach to interpreting and translating this novel. In this paper, feminist translation strategies proposed by Françoise Massardier-Kenney are first applied to discuss feminist translation strategies adopted by Yang to render this novel as a feminist text. In order to produce a translation from a non-feminist perspective, we consider Eugene Nida's dynamic equivalence a suitable translation strategy for it advocates a type of free translation that allows any necessary linguistic adjustments. In addition, a non-feminist interpretation is offered: Edna is seen as a sensually awakened woman who suffers increasingly an unbeatable solitude rather than someone struggling for independence and freedom. In order to achieve the effect intended, particular wordings are employed to explicitly accentuate Edna's sensual awakening and to also amplify the unbearable sense of solitude that forces Edna to end her life. Examples for discussion and analysis are provided to explain how we manage to accentuate Edna's sensual awakening and amplify Edna's state of solitude so that readers may perceive Edna as a conscious being who constantly grapple with the meaning of individual existence but fails to achieve a sense of selfhood.


1. Ing-mei Yang's Feminist Approach to Translating The Awakening

Since the 19th century, translation has been the major access path for women to the world of letters and a way to express their political convictions (Simon 1996:2). Through translation, women gained power and opportunity of writing in the era that being a writer was the exclusive privilege of men. Therefore, translation became a medium for women to express and show their identity, and the foremost goal for the feminist translator was to make the feminine visible in the text. Feminist translators adopt existing translation strategies rather than invent new ones. These strategies are used to represent a woman's particular point of view presented in the source text. In "Towards a Redefinition of Feminist Translation Practice," Françoise Massardier-Kenney divides the feminist translation strategies into two categories: "author-centered" and "translator-centered" strategies, and each strategy is further categorized into six substrategies (see Table 1):

Table 1 "Author-centered" and "Translator-centered" Strategies

 

Author-centered

Translator-centered

Strategy 1

Recovery

Commentary

Strategy 2

Commentary

Parallel Texts

Strategy 3

Resistance

Collaboration


1.1 Author-centered and Translator-centered Strategies

The translator adopts author-centered strategies, including "recovery ," "commentary" and "resistance," to make the texts more accessible for readers. The first author-centered strategy, "recovery," is used to "extend the canon through the translation of women authors" (Massardier-Kenney 1997:59). Since women writers have had little exposure in the field of writing over the centuries, there is an abundance of women writers whose works have been excluded, abandoned, and neglected for a long time. It is feminist translator's job to rediscover works by women writers and to make them available to the public through translation. "Commentary" is another author-centered strategy, and the translator adopts this strategy to make explicit the importance and significance of the feminine or women in the text through metadiscourse accompanying the translation. Translation prefaces, afterwords, and reflections are ways of metadiscourse which function to help readers appreciate a text from a feminist perspective. The third author-centered strategy, "resistance," is more appropriate for highly experimental writings in which syntax and lexis already challenge the conventions of the source language. The translator deconstructs the conventional language use in order to produce a translation without fluency so a defamiliarzing effect can be achieved.

The feminist translator can also adopt translator-centered strategies to reconstruct the cultural context by means of "commentary," "parallel texts," and "collaboration." While "commentary" of author-centered translation strategy is used to explore and explain why the feminist text translated is significant and how women play important roles in the text, "commentary" of translator-centered strategy serves a different purpose. The commentary in a translator-centered translation strategy is more like a translator's self-analysis, in which feminist translator reveals how her motive affects the result of translation and explains the difficulties she encounters during translation.

The second translator-centered strategy is the "use of parallel texts." According to Massardier-Kenney's definition, this strategy means "texts in the target language which have been produced in a situation similar to that in which the source text was produced" (1997:64). Before translating, feminist translators could search for a parallel text in the target language compatible with the source texts so as to target the translation to the domestic cultural constituencies more precisely.

The last strategy used by translators to achieve a feminist translation is "collaboration," which refers to a translator working with other translator(s) or even with the author to produce the translation. Massardier-Kenney believes that by collaboration translators may "avoid the traditional dichotomy between two subjectivities (author/translator) which seek control of the meaning" (1997:65) because translators have to constantly compare their interpretations of the same text with other translators' or the author's. By doing so, feminist translators would be able to produce a more neutral and appropriate translation.

Feminist translation strategies are categorized into author-centered and translator-centered strategies, but these two strategies do not contradict each other. It is found that Yang adopts both strategies at the same time in the process of translation. To begin with, she adopts the first author-centered strategy, "recovery," to familiarize Taiwanese readers with the author Kate Chopin and the feminist sentiments revealed in her novel. Since women's predicament in the traditional family and marriage were the contemporary feminists' two major interests in Taiwan during the eighties, the publication of Yang's translation has incorporated a concern for consciousness-raising at the individual level. Readers who read this novel may emotionally connect to and critically reflect upon women's lives portrayed in the novel.

"Commentary" was the second author-centered strategy adopted by Yang to discuss the importance and significance of the feminine or women by means of a preface. It is worth noting that in Yang's eight-page preface, she mentions first why the novel was once forgotten and rediscovered again in the mid-twentieth century, and then the symbols of the sea, birds and the title of the novel are particularly interpreted from a feminist perspective. For example, Edna's inclination of swimming in the sea discloses her desire for freedom, and her choice of committing suicide implies her determination to preserve selfhood against the smothering pressure of social conventions (Yang 1996:8). As for the birds, they symbolize something in captivity, struggling to come out of the constraints (ibid).

The last strategy of author-centered strategy, "resistance," is more suitably applied to highly experimental writings. Yang does not necessarily adopt this strategy because The Awakening, in essence, is not an experimental writing. Besides, adopting this strategy might result in a translation with less readability.

In addition to author-centered strategies, it is also investigated whether Yang adopts any of the translator-centered strategies. The first translator-centered strategy, "commentary," is used by Yang to describe her motive for translating the text. In the preface, she writes that she has lectured the novel for several years and has always wanted to translate it into Chinese to help promote feminism in Taiwan. Nevertheless, the difficulty of translating this novel is not mentioned.

Another translator-centered strategy, "parallel texts," is not adopted by Yang. Though in preface, she mentions French scholar Cyrille Arnavon's remarks on The Awakening as a text that can match up to the French novelist Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856), there is no evidence that Yang used the Chinese translation of Madame Bovary or any other parallel text as a model for her translation of The Awakening.

Lastly, the translator-centered strategy "collaboration" requires translator to work with other translator(s) or even the author. On the cover of the Chinese translation, Yang's name is shown as the exclusive translator. In the preface, although Yang gives acknowledgements to her husband, David Decker, for discussing the source texts with her; her husband here plays the role of consultant and advisor, rather than a translator with whom Yang collaborated.

In short, Yang adopts two of the author-centered strategies, "recovery" and "commentary," and one translator-centered strategy, "commentary." By employing these three strategies, she is able to bring readers closer to the text. By interpreting the symbolic meanings of some specific images presented in the novel from a feminist perspective, she intends to confer a feminist reading to The Awakening. Besides limiting the readers to a restricted feminist interpretation of the novel, particular wordings are employed by Yang to communicate a particular feminist sentiment.


1.2 Endow Edna with a Masculine Image

Besides adopting feminist translation strategies to highlight the novel as a feminist text, Yang uses masculine phrases to characterize Edna's look. In Example 1, Edna's eyes are described as "gewai shenxian" 格外深陷 (especially sunken) and her facial feature as "haomai satuo" 豪邁灑脫 (intrepid and carefree), which all leave readers with the impression that Edna seems to have a stiff and rigid appearance:

Example 1

Her eyebrows were a shade darker than her hair. They were thick and almost horizontal, emphasizing the depth of her eyes. She was rather handsome than beautiful. (The Awakening, p.9)

她的眉毛顏色比髮色還深一層,而且粗粗的,有如水平線般平直,襯托得眼睛格外深陷,與其說她漂亮,倒不如說她豪邁灑脫(Yang, p.7)

The phrase "haomai" 豪邁is also used somewhere to give Edna a manly look:

Example 2

She was splendid and robust, and had never appeared handsomer than in the old blue gown, with a red silk handkerchief knotted at random around her head to protect her hair from the dust. (The Awakening, p.141)

她看起來神采飛揚而且很健美,從來沒有比現在這樣一身老舊的藍色長服,頭上隨便包條防塵紅絲巾更豪邁漂亮(Yang, p.172-173)

According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ 2007), "handsome" means good-looking, attractive and beautiful and can be applied both to men and women. However, "haomai" and "haomai satuo" in Chinese are mainly used to address a man's vibrant and daring personality. Yang's subversive use of this phrase inevitably endows Edna with a masculine image.

Besides masculinizing Edna's appearance, Yang also endows Edna with a more masculine physique:

Example 3

She looked at her round arms as she held them straight up and rubbed them one after the other, observing closely, as if it were something she saw for the first time, the fine, firm quality and texture of her flesh. (The Awakening, p.62)

一面輪流摩搓渾圓的雙臂,一面仔細看著,好像生平第一次看到自己美好結實的肌肉(Yang, p.82)

In example 3, "the fine, firm quality and texture of her flesh" connotes the delicacy of Edna's skin. Yang's rendering "jieshi de jirou" 結實的肌肉 (sturdy muscles) is a Chinese expression scarcely used to describe the female body. It seems that Yang intends to endow Edna with a masculine appearance and to turn her into a robust woman.


1.3 Accentuate Edna's Character and Consciousness

In the preface, Yang explains that the "sea" represents a free space, where Edna liberates herself from the bondages imposed upon her. The sea is especially important to Edna because this is where Edna comes to realize that she has the strength and ability to go beyond her limitations as a woman. In example 4, the source text describes the sea as something that keeps seducing the soul to embrace its profundity, but it does not specify whose "soul" it is:

Example 4

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. (The Awakening, p.25)

大海的迴響多麼誘人,不斷低語,忽而喧嘩,忽而呢喃,似在邀求她的靈魂遨遊於孤獨的深淵之中,迷失於沉思裡。大海的迴響呼喚著她的靈魂(Yang, p.38)

In her translation, Yang directly designates "the soul" as Edna's. Her interpretation tends to personalize the "sea" speaking to Edna, which creates an image of the sea interacting with Edna's soul and builds up a close relation and a strong bond between the two. By linking the sea with Edna, Yang implies to readers that Edna is very attached to freedom.

Yang also uses commas to accentuate the feminine character. Example 5 shows that two commas are used to emphasize Edna's state of being:

Example 5

And as she snuggled comfortably beneath the eider-down, a sense of restfulness invaded her, such as she had not known before. (The Awakening, p.122)

在絨被裡面舒舒服服的蜷縮著,她,有一種從未有過的寧靜(Yang, p.151)

This example depicts Edna's feeling when she is free from the responsibilities of motherhood. Yang uses two commas to separate "ta" (she) from the other parts of the sentence. In doing so, "she" becomes recognized and distinguished in the translation where the feminine character stands out.

Besides commas, the use of dash is noticeable in the source text and is very effective in catching readers' attention to the feminine character. In example 6, it is apparent that the original usage of two dashes remains unchanged in Yang's translation:

Example 6

She could only realize that she herself--her present self--was in some way different from the other self. (The Awakening, p.67)

她只知道-目前的自己-以前的自己有所不同(Yang, p.89)

In practice, the dash is used for further explanation of the previous statement or a sudden change in the manner of speaking. While the use of two dashes in the source text elucidates that Edna's "present self" is intended for comparison with her "other self," Yang's rendering achieves a similar effect, except that Yang tends to explicitate "the other self" as Edna's previous self.

The use of the dash is also noticeable in Yang's translation. While no dash is used in the source text, the use of the dash in Yang's translation exposes the reader to a considerable female consciousness:

Example 7

She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested. (The Awakening, p.97)

其間也找到幾個陽光燦爛適合做夢的地方-可以獨處,不被干擾,好做個夢的地方(Yang, p.121)

Yang's rendering enables readers to recognize that it is Edna's wish to find a space of her own where she can be free of disturbances and the responsibilities of motherhood. Her intentional manipulation and representation of Edna's character and consciousness not only makes the feminine visible but also manifests a particular feminist sentiment.


2. Proposal of a Non-feminist Approach to Translating The Awakening

In our proposal of a translation model, we consider Eugene Nida's dynamic equivalence a suitable translation strategy which pays more attention to the target readers and allows for the necessary linguistic adjustments. Also, our interpretation from a non-feminist perspective sees Edna as a sensually awakened and solitary woman. How we manage to accentuate Edna's sensual awakening and amplify a sense of solitude is illustrated in 2.4 and 2.5.


2.1 Eugene Nida's Dynamic Equivalence Model

Eugene Nida's dynamic equivalence is said to be a type of free translation, which cares about the target readers' response. Depending on the readers for whom the translation is made, dynamic equivalent translations may not be close to the formal structure of the original text (i.e. lexicon or syntax) in that the form can be restructured to preserve the meaning. In his comparative study of Jin Di and Nida's translation theory, Ma Huijuan contends that dynamic equivalence "has some limitations in guiding literary translation. This is simply because Nida's immediate concern is not about literary translation; hence it fails to address the transference of formal structures possessing stylistic values and aesthetic effects" (Ma 2007:106). When applied to literary translation, Nida's dynamic equivalence, which is meaning-oriented, cannot "provide effective means to transfer aesthetic values of a literary work" (Ma 2007:107). As Nida's dynamic equivalence tends to retain the meaning and sacrifice style or spirit of the original when meaning and style cannot be kept at the same time, Ma's point of view that meaning, rather than style, is considered a top priority is very inadequate for literary translation. Ma is thereby in line with Jin Di who considers Nida's translation theory not to be applicable to literary translation practice.

Whether Nida's dynamic equivalence can be successfully applied to literary translation practice depends on the types of literary work translators are dealing with, since versatile literary works can be categorized into different genres and subgenres. Nida's theory of dynamic equivalence may not be suitable for translating highly experimental writings noted for their innovation of language and style where the translator must strive to reproduce the artistic style. By adopting Nida's dynamic equivalence to translate Chopin's The Awakening which originates from the writer's experience rather than experimenting with language itself, we find that the spirit and the style of the original can be retained without distortion or deletion. Furthermore, the dynamic equivalence model, which allows for linguistic adjustments, provides the translator with the maximum level of freedom so that the meaning of a literary work can be re-interpreted.


2.2 Critical Review of The Awakening

Kate Chopin's The Awakening is widely perceived and highly appreciated by modern readers as a feminist text, which advocates the notions that women are entitled to true love, happiness and independence. They also highly value Kate Chopin's The Awakening for it shows the conflicts and struggles a woman goes through while challenging the social norms. On the other hand, some modern critics and reviewers argue otherwise and disapprove of seeing The Awakening as a feminist text. For instance, Nancy Walker in "Feminist or Naturalist?" argues that "Edna's awakening is a realization of her sensual nature, not of her equality of freedom as an individual. Chopin did not intend to write a feminist tract" (Gulley 1994:252). We are in line with this argument. In the novel, Edna at first behaves and considers herself a reserved and inhibited person not accustomed to intimacy. After she develops a relationship with Robert and Arobin, it is her passion for Robert and the sensual stimulation by Arobin that bring her sensual joy and awaken her.

While Edna's rebellion against the social conventions is regarded as a very strong characteristic of feminism that highlights Edna's intense emotional capacity, some authors believe that she is a solitary and a conflicted woman, and it is her desperate loneliness that leads to her death. As Margo Gulley in "Edna Pontellier: 'A Solitary Soul'" notes:

When the dread of solitude possesses Edna, she seeks, as she has sought since her youth, the deliverance of the imagination; her sexual awakening now leads her to seek the deliverance of the flesh. When she understands that both these deliverers will fail her, she embraces death with the same mixture of dread and delight as when she first discovered her solitude. (Gulley 1994:247)

In fact, the novel was originally entitled as "A Solitary Soul" and was renamed as "The Awakening" by the publisher. Thus, it is evident that Chopin took solitude as the central theme of the novel. Interestingly, the word, "alone" occurs twenty nine times, "lonely" twice, and "solitude" seven times throughout the novel. It is safe for us to say that Chopin portrays Edna as a solitary woman who struggles to make up for her loneliness.

In our interpretation of Edna's awakening, we see Edna as a woman who awakens to her sensuality that brings her physical joy. Later on, she awakens once again to realize that she is all alone in the world and can never overcome this state of being. To dispel this intolerable sense of solitude, she chooses to end her life. In "Edna's Suicide," Suzanne Wolkefeld comments on Edna's suicide and contends that "Edna does not possess the strength to live her life alone and is therefore driven to seek the solitary security of death (Gulley 1994:245). Cynthia Griffin Wolf in "Thanatos and Eros" also notes: "Edna's final act of destruction has a quality of uncompromising sensuous fulfillment . . . It is her answer to the inadequacies of life, a literal denial and reversal of the birth trauma she has just witnessed, a stripping away of adulthood, of limitation, of consciousness itself" (Gulley 1994:p.241). In short, Edna first awakens from sensual pleasure followed by the realization of an unbeatable sense of solitude. The goal of conveying this interpretation is what we strive for in the retranslation.


2.3 Womanize Edna's Physical Appearance

Our translation intends to womanize Edna, since in the original she is portrayed as a woman born with delicate features. As shown in Example 8, "shensui"深邃 (deep and profound), a Chinese term to indicate that the eyes are so enchanting, is used to describe "the depth" of Edna's eyes. Unlike Yang who tends to embody Edna with a manly look, "handsome" is translated as "luoluo dafang" 落落大方, which gives Edna a genuine and delightful appearance:

Example 8

Her eyebrows were a shade darker than her hair. They were thick and almost horizontal, emphasizing the depth of her eyes. She was rather handsome than beautiful. (The Awakening, p.9)

Our translation:

她的眉毛比髮色還要再深一些,兩道濃眉,讓她的雙眸更顯深邃。形容她落落大方會比漂亮更來得適切。

Yang's translation:

她的眉毛顏色比髮色還深一層,而且粗粗的,有如水平線般平直,襯托得眼睛格外深陷,與其說她漂亮,倒不如說她豪邁灑脫(Yang, p.7)

In Example 9, while Yang uses the term, "jianmei" 健美 (well-built), which masculinizes Edna's physical features, we render "robust" as "shencai yiyi" 神采奕奕 (glow and vitalize) to convey her radiating vitality. At the same time, "handsomer" is rendered as "meiyan donggren" 美豔動人 (beautiful and attractive) to enhance Edna's feminine appearance :

Example 9

She was splendid and robust, and had never appeared handsomer than in the old blue gown, with a red silk handkerchief knotted at random around her head to protect her hair from the dust. (The Awakening, p.141)

Our translation:

她看起來明亮動人又神采奕奕,穿著舊的藍色長袍,頭上隨意包著一條防塵紅絲巾的她,比平日更加美豔動人

Yang's translation:

她看起來神采飛揚而且很健美,從來沒有比現在這樣一身老舊的藍色長服,頭上隨便包條防塵紅絲巾更豪邁漂亮(Yang, p.172-173)

Edna is also enchanted by her "fine, firm quality and texture of her flesh" for the first time in example 10. To convey this physical charm, "the fine, firm quality and texture" is rendered as "xizhi jinshi" 細緻緊實 (refined and firm). Unlike Yang's translation that tends to endow Edna with a masculine physique, our translation emphasizes that Edna's delicate body feature has the power of allurement:

Example 10

She looked at her round arms as she held them straight up and rubbed them one after the other, observing closely, as if it were something she saw for the first time, the fine, firm quality and texture of her flesh. (The Awakening, p.62)

Our translation:

她盯著自己舒展的手臂,搓揉按摩,細細觀察,好像第一次看到自己細緻緊實的肌膚

Yang's translation:

一面輪流摩搓渾圓的雙臂,一面仔細看著,好像生平第一次看到自己美好結實的肌肉(Yang, p.82)


2.4 Accentuate Edna's Sensual Awakening

In the first half of the novel, Edna behaves and considers herself a reserved person not accustomed to intimacy. Later on, she is sensually awakened. In Example 11, while Yang's rendering of "passion" as "qinggan" 情感 (feelings) is too vague to spell out the feeling that is gnawing her, we interpret "passions" as "qingyu" 情慾 (lust) to specify that Edna's sensual desire is aroused within herself:

Example 11

But the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body. (The Awakening, p.44-45)

Our translation:

但是她感到內心激盪出一股強烈的情慾,震撼著、衝擊著靈魂,就像是浪潮日復一日挑逗著她迷人的身軀。

Yang's translation:

但心靈深處卻激起一股強烈的情感,搖撼著、鞭打著她的靈魂,如同那浪潮日日沖激著她曼妙的身軀一般。(Yang, p.60)

In addition, Edna in chapter 6 of the novel feels that the touch of the sea is very seductive, so "tiao dou" 挑逗 (to provoke) is used to intensify the sensual interaction between the sea and Edna. This rendering is very different from Yang's literal translation.

In Example 12 below, Chopin uses a very strong word "effrontery" to indicate Arobin's dissolute manner as he flirts with Edna. It is Arobin's sexual stimulation that triggers Edna's sensuality. Comparing with Yang's translation "jiongjiong de" 炯炯的 (glaring), our rendering "haose de" 好色的 (lustful) fairly conveys the connotative meaning of "effrontery":

Example 12

He stood close to her, and the effrontery in his eyes repelled the old, vanishing self in her, yet drew all her awakening sensuousness. (The Awakening, p.127)

Our translation:

他緊靠在她身旁,好色的眼神讓她原本的自我消失無蹤,進而挑起了她覺醒中情慾

Yang's translation:

他站得很近,炯炯的眼神逼視著她,不僅擊退了她那本來就逐步在消失的昔日的自我,並且喚起了所有正在甦醒之中的感性(Yang, p.157)

In order to echo with the title and theme of the novel, "the awakening," and to let readers sense that Edna first awakens from sensuality, "awakening sensuousness" is translated as "juexing zhong de qingyu" 覺醒中的情慾 (the awakening sensuous desire). Unlike Yang who renders this phrase as "su xing zhi zhong de gan xing" 甦醒之中的感性 (awakening sensibility), we intend to accentuate Edna's sensual awakening by rendering "sensuousness" as "qingyu" 情慾 to emphasize Edna's sensual longing for male stimulation and seduction.

Example 13 is a passage that demonstrates Edna's sexual awakening. Kissing Arobin provokes Edna's sexual desire, and she responds by kissing back. Yang's rendering of "her nature" as "benxing" 本性 (real nature) seems to imply that Edna is inherently sexually oriented. In our translation, "her nature" is rendered as "benneng" 本能 (physical instinct) to imply Edna's yearning for sexual fulfillment, and what makes her lose control of herself is part of human nature:

Example 13

When he leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped his head, holding his lips to hers. It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire. (The Awakening, p.139)

Our translation:

他貼近親吻她,她扣住他的頭,讓彼此的唇緊緊相貼。這是她一生中頭一次本能般地主動回吻,這個吻像是一把熊熊燃燒的火炬,燃起了熾熱的性慾

Yang's translation:

他趨前吻她時,她緊箝住他的頭好讓他的唇對著她的。這是她這一生中,第一次真正觸動到她的本性、挑起回應的吻,是一把燃燒的火炬,點燃了她的慾望(Yang, p.170)

To make this connotation more explicit, "desire" is translated as "xingyu" 性慾 (sexual desire). If "desire" were merely translated as "yuwang" 慾望 (see Yang's translation), this rendering would be vague for the connotative meaning of "desire."

Edna's sensuality is transparently presented in Example 14. "Sensuality" literally means the hidden desire for sensual pleasure. There is no convenient equivalent phrase in Chinese to perfectly express this intense feeling. Yang's translation of "sensuality" as "yunian"慾念 (desire) is not explicit enough to express the intensity of this feeling. In our translation, we render it as "jiqing"激情 (ardor) to convey Edna's corporeal excitement and to also highlight Edna's sensual awakening:

Example 14

He had detected the latent sensuality, which unfolded under his delicate sense of her nature's requirements like a torpid, torrid, sensitive blossom. (The Awakening, p.173)

Our translation:

他發覺她潛藏的激情,也敏感地意識到她原始的慾求,像是含苞待放的花蕾蓄勢待發、蠢蠢欲動。

Yang's translation:

他已經察覺因為他細膩的感應到她內心的需求,她那沉睡已久的慾念,正像一朵冬眠後的熱情花朵逐漸綻放開來。(Yang, p.211)

The other key phrase in the original sentence is "nature's requirements," which is rendered by Yang as "neixin de xuqiu" 內心的需求 (inner need). We translate it as "yuanshi de yuqiu" 原始的慾求 (primitive desire) to put emphasis on Edna's craving for intimacy.


2.5 Amplify Edna's Solitude

The other important theme of the novel is Edna's ultimate awakening to realize that she is in fact all alone in the world. The fulfillment and joy she experiences from her sensual awakening cannot compensate for or defeat the immense solitude within her. Her loneliness explains all her deviant behavior. Thus it is considerably crucial to convey Edna's sense of solitude in our translation. Example 15 describes the very first stage Edna begins to recognize the state of her existence:

Example 15

In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her. (The Awakening, p.25)

Our translation:

簡單來說,龐特里爾太太開始認知到自己在宇宙中身為一個人的地位,同時意識到在自己內心與外在世界之中,她是獨立的個體

Yang's translation:

總之,龐太太開始領悟到自己在宇宙中的地位,並且意識到她個人與自己的內心世界及外在世界二者之間的關係。(Yang, p.37)

"An individual" here does not simply mean "geren" 個人 (a person) but a single and complete human being. We render "an individual" as "duli de geti" 獨立的個體 (an independent individual) to manifest that Edna at this juncture realizes that she exists as an autonomous individual. This realization also brings Edna a sense of solitude.

Whether Edna is a daughter, a wife, a mother or a woman, she has to endure an unbearable loneliness. To make explicit Edna's solitude in the retranslation is what we aim at next. If Edna's feeling of loneliness does not carry over, the "hopelessness" she feels might seem incomprehensible to readers. Example 16 describes Edna's desolation is even greater when she is in the crowd. While Yang renders "hopelessness" as "wuwang zhi gan" 無望之感 (a desolated feeling), readers would not be in sympathy with Edna's condition. In our translation, "hopelessness" is amplified as "guku juewang" 孤苦絕望 (forlorn and desperate) to convey Edna's lonely desperation:

Example 16

But as she sat there amid her guests, she felt the old ennui overtaking her; the hopelessness which so often assailed her, which came upon her like an obsession, like something extraneous, independent of volition. (The Awakening, p.148)

Our translation:

但是她坐在賓客之中,那種熟悉的鬱悶感,那股經常襲擊她的孤苦絕望,就像是魔咒,使她無從敵抗。

Yang's translation:

然而,坐在賓客之間,那熟悉的沮喪之感再度油然而生,時常盤據她的無望之感又縈擾著她。(Yang, p.180)

The separation from her children deepens Edna's inner solitude. In example 17, "she was again alone" in the original emphasizes the enduring loneliness Edna suffers from over and over again. Not only the state of being alone but also the isolation she feels is amplified. By translating this sentence as "ta yo shi gulingling de yige ren" 她又是孤零零的一個人 (She became lonely again by herself), we tend to amplify "alone" to convey Edna's solitude. In Chinese, "gulingling" means being alone. Yang translates "alone" as "duzi" 獨自 (on her own), which barely conveys the sense of loneliness experienced by Edna:

Example 17

It was with a wrench and a pang that Edna left her children. She carried away with her the sound of their voices and the touch of their cheeks. All along the journey homeward their presence lingered with her like the memory of a delicious song. But by the time she had regained the city the song no longer echoed in her soul. She was again alone. (The Awakening, p.157-158)

Our translation:

安德娜帶著難分難捨的心情和孩子們分離,她把孩子的聲音和臉頰的觸感深深烙印在腦海裡,回程的路上,他們的聲音就像首美妙的歌曲一直在她腦海裡盤旋,不過一回到城裡,歌曲迴盪不再,她又是孤零零的一個人

Yang's translation:

艾德娜依依不捨的離開孩子,滿腦子都是孩子們的聲音及他們的臉頰貼著自己的感覺,整個回程中,他們像首優美的老歌縈繞在腦際,然而,到達城市之前,歌聲已不復在靈魂深處迴響。她又是獨自一人了(Yang, p.192)

Example 18 depicts Edna's second and ultimate awakening before she ends her life. At this juncture Edna comes to understand that nothing and no one in the world can help her conquer this unbeatable solitude. She also realizes that all the passion and joy she seeks to make up for her solitude seem to be in vain, and nothing but death can end this solitude:

Example 18

There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. (The Awakening, p.188-189)

Our translation:

這個世界上她最渴望羅伯特陪伴她,甚至也體悟到終究會有那麼一天,就算是羅伯特,以及對他的愛戀都會從她的生命裡消聲匿跡,留下她形單影隻

Yang's translation:

勞伯特是她唯一想親近的人,而她也明白,有朝一日,即使是他,以及對他的思念,也會從她的生命中消失,離她而去(Yang, p.231)

While Yang's rendering of "leaving her alone" as "li ta er qu" 離她而去 (to leave her) may not convey this subtle implication, our use of the Chinese idiom "xing dan yin zhi" 形單影隻 deliberately shows readers that Edna is always left alone.


Concluding Remarks

From the above discussion and analysis, it is apparent that Yang employs feminist translation strategies when translating Chopin's The Awakening. She adopts two of the author-centered strategies, recovery and commentary, and one of the translator-centered strategies, commentary, to promote this novel as a feminist text. In addition, Yang tends to embody Edna with a masculine image so Edna appears to be neither fragile nor vulnerable. At the same time she makes use of punctuation marks such as comma and dash to manifest Edna's feminine character, through which Edna's consciousness is also conveyed to communicate a feminist sentiment.

In order to produce a translation that can attract the attention of a broader range of Taiwanese readers, we propose a non-feminist approach to translating this novel. Edna's awakening is not viewed as her struggle for personal independence and emotional freedom. Instead, it is interpreted as her recognition of sensuality that can temporarily fill the emptiness felt within and awareness of an unconquerable sense of solitude that she can never overcome with sensual pleasure. To dispel this sense of emptiness and solitude that causes more anguish than despair, she chooses to end her life rather than deal with her mental frustration. In the task of retranslation, we employ particular wordings to convey the enjoyment Edna experiences in her sensual awakening and the solitude that makes Edna descend into despair. By adopting this non-feminist approach to translating this novel, we hope to provide readers with a different reading and appreciation of Kate Chopin's The Awakening.



Notes

1 The first version of this article was presented as a report at the NCYU 2008 International Conference on Applied Linguistics. Chiayi, Taiwan: National Chiayi University.

2 The Awakening was published in the late 19th century at a time when sexuality was not a topic for open discussion in Louisiana. The novel was not accepted by her contemporary readers. Due to furious criticism, The Awakening was once banned and then out of print shortly after its debut in 1899. Afterwards, few of her stories were published before she died in 1904. It was not until a French scholar, Cyrille Arnavon, translated the novel into French in 1952 and a Norwegian professor, Per Seyersted, published The Complete Works of Kate Chopin and Kate Chopin: A Critical Biography in 1969, was this long-neglected work finally viewed with great literary value in the 20th century. Although it took nearly half a century to be valued and appreciated, The Awakening remains one of the significant novels in the 21st century.

3 Born in 1952, Ing-mei Yang received her M.A. in Comparative Literature from University of Washington, USA, and she is now a lecturer at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature of Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. She has translated and edited short stories by other women writers in addition to The Awakening. For example, Nanjie zhi yuan (難解之緣, literally means incomprehensible relationship), published by Linkingbooks in 1999, is a collection of nine famous feminist writers, including Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), Sara Orne Jewett (1849-1909), Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945), Susan Glaspell (1882-1948), Marry Wilkins Freeman (1852-1930), and F. M. Mayor (1872-1932).



Texts

Chopin, K. (1994). The awakening. New York: Harper-Collins.

Yang, Ing-mei. (1996). Juexing. Taipei: fembooks Publishing House.


References

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