This book is a study of European-language translations of Naxi ritual manuscripts, the ritual literature of a small ethnic group living in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
The author discusses the translations into European languages (in English, French and German) from the late nineteenth century to the second half of the twentieth century, revealing a history of fragmentary yet interconnected translation efforts in the West. By exploring this network, he shows how translation can be understood as a metonymic “recreation” of textual worlds. As Naxi manuscripts are semi-oral texts representing an oral-formulaic tradition, their translation involves a metonymic relay of partial incorporations from manuscript/image to reading/spoken language. Therefore, the book engages in a series of textual excavations to uncover the previously occluded contemporaneous readings that would have led to the translations we can consult today, particularly in an attempt to understand how the Naxi literature came to be part of Ezra Pound’s Cantos.
Scholars in the field of ethnic minority literature in China and translation studies will find this book beneficial, and it will make new contributions to comparative literature between the East and West.
Table of Contents
1 Translating (and re-creating) worlds 2 The manuscript hunters 3 The missionary translations 4 From Rock to Pound (and beyond)
Duncan Poupard teaches in the Department of Translation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His work focuses on the translation of Chinese ethnic minority literature, specifically of the Naxi minority. He has worked with museums and libraries around the world on the cataloguing of Naxi manuscripts.