Repressed Sexual Modernity: A Case Study of Herbert Giles’ (1845 - 1935) Rendition of Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (1880) in the late Qing

Wing Bo Anna TSO


Translation studies in English and Chinese has long been of great interest to academics. Yet, Chinese scholars who have translation training and linguistic expertise are often found to “give excessive attention to listing facts and probing linguistic matters, to the neglect of the cultural and contextual considerations that have given rise to translation in China in the first place” (Lin, 2002, p. 170). Much emphasis has been placed on translation strategies, while translation “in connection with power and patronage” (Lefereve, 1992, p. 10) is overlooked, leaving “existing ideology” or “existing poetics” (Lefereve, 1992, p. 10), such as gender unexplored. In light of this, this paper attempts to take the literary and cultural approach and focus on examining the gender ideologies in Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (1740) and Herbert Giles’ English rendition (1880). By comparing the source and target texts, the paper reveals that in many of Pu Songling’s stories, spirit-freelove and sexual pleasure are celebrated. A witty parody of the imitative structures of gender can be found in Pu Songling’s “Painted Skin” too. Unfortunately, to a large extent, such transgressive gender views are repressed in Giles’ English rendition.


carnivalesque; Pu Songling; repressed sexual modernity; sexual autonomy and diversity; translation studies

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