In Transferral Between Chinese and American Cultures: Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang and its Chinese Translation
Lin Yutang 林語堂 (1895–1976) was a Chinese American writer who wrote primarily in English and acted as an interpreter of Chinese culture for the west. During Lin’s stay in the United States from 1936 to 1966, he produced some thirty works in English to disseminate Chinese philosophy and customs to a western audience. Although Lin was hailed as a cultural ambassador between China and the United States, his translation and rewriting works are sometimes criticised for complying in the colonial power dynamics between China and the west. In this thesis, I demonstrate that Lin’s English translations and rewritings are not only achievements made from personal capabilities in bilingual transfer, but also products of individual efforts in dealing with cultural obstacles imposed by the authorities. I select Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang as a case, to illustrate that Lin’s reworking on traditional Chinese folktale stories constitutes a reinvention of Chinese cultural legacy. Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang contains a selection of twenty tales from both literati and popular sources in ancient Chinese culture, edited and rewritten in English by Lin using western storytelling techniques. As I argue, Lin’s cross-cultural rewriting helps to uncover the humanistic potential of traditional Chinese resources to modernise ancient Chinese society. Especially, his endeavour in translation and cross-cultural communication demonstrates his compassionate perspective on women’s status in ancient China. In addition, this thesis explores the Chinese translation of Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang completed by a Taiwanese translator Zhang Zhenyu 張振玉, and examines the Chinese translation as part of the continued reception of Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang in the Chinese world. As such, the study of Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang provides a valuable reference for the significance of and challenges in translators’ cross-cultural mediation.