Trans-cultural and Trans-temporal Translations: A new theory of world literature – a brief introduction

Tammy L M Ho

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This paper reads a group of contemporary poems in English and their precursor-poems, written in either Chinese or English, and charts the metamorphoses that occur between the two versions. The newer poems may follow the language patterns and ideas of the ‘originals’ but transpose and translate the earlier texts into different temporal, cultural, political and social contexts as a means of addressing contemporary concerns. Such multi-layered crossover translations, I argue, epitomize the notion of globalized literature and the ways in which form and content can be recycled across cultures, historical periods and languages. In this sense, the new works simultaneously draw attention to the cultural specificities of the ‘originals’ and engender new meanings in new target languages or cultures. The paper presents the possibility of considering trans-temporal and trans-cultural translation as one mode of reading, identifying, understanding and teaching World Literature. It also argues that texts that have undergone the treatment of trans-temporal and trans-cultural translation (such as Auden’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” and Li Bai’s “Changgan Xin”), regardless of their original language, exhibit qualities that other texts that have been translated straightforwardly into different languages may lack and can be viewed as ’exemplary World Literature texts.’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Epoch of Universalism 1769–1989
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783110691504
ISBN (Print)9783110691474, 9783110995183
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameBeyond Universalism
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2700-1156
ISSN (Electronic)2700-1164


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