Reaffirming ‘Chineseness’ in the Translations of Asian American Literature: Maxine Hong Kingston’s Fictions in Taiwan and Mainland China

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Abstract

This essay studies the Chinese translations of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and China Men in relation to the construction of Chinese cultural unity. In order to sustain the myth of an unchanging Chinese cultural identity across different continents, the translations do not hesitate to re-sinicize and even modify Kingston’s works. Such emphasis on cultural affinity between Chinese American and Chinese in Mainland or Taiwan, the paper argues, simply reinforces the hegemony of traditional patriarchal order, while suppressing the feminist perspectives in the original texts. However, though appropriated as a tool of asserting national cohesiveness, translation is paradoxically a means through which difference is perceived and inscribed. The “Chineseness” asserted in the translations of Chinese American literature literature can only actualize itself by alienating itself, and restore its self-unity by recognizing this differentiation as nothing other than its own manifestation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-98
Number of pages25
JournalTranslation Quarterly
Volume18-19
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000

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