This article consists of an introduction by Patricia Sieber and six short essays on translation approaches together with actual translations of sanqu songs by Mario De Grandis, Ke Wang, Hui Yao, Jingying Gao and Ian McNally, Xu Yichun, and Jenn Marie Nunes. The introduction provides a short history of the translation of sanqu songs into English, followed by a reflection on which distinctive features of the genre beg for attention in the translation process. In particular, it argues that the different sonic features of sanqu merit close consideration, the loss of the notational contours of the original tunes notwithstanding. Rather than bemoaning the absence of the underlying music, it suggests that, in keeping with Walter Benjamin's vision of the “task of the translator,” translation into another language can be an opportunity to reinvent that musicality in different ways. The six short essays that follow consider sanqu songs from the corpus of diasporic writers from the Yuan dynasty, with a view toward enriching the repertoire of translation strategies for sanqu in terms of musicality and other salient features of the genre. The six essays discuss, respectively, pronouns, rhyme, punctuation, language registers, allusion, and citational practice. In contextualizing such strategies theoretically and illustrating them with examples, the short essays seek to contribute more broadly to the theory and practice of the literary translation of Chinese poetic forms.

You do not currently have access to this content.