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Reviews 97 Eugene Chen Eoyang. The Transparent Eye: Reflections on Translation, Chinese Literature and Comparative Poetics. SHAPS Library of Translations, Honolulu: University ofHawai'i Press, 1993. xx, 311 pp. Hardcover $38. Translation studies, formerly a marginal and neglected area, has recentiy excited a significant wave of interest among scholars. In 1990, Susan Bassnett and Andre Lefevere started a series ofbooks on translation studies wiAi RouAedge, claiming "Translation Studies" as a separate discipline. The University of Hawai'i Press has also launched a series called SHAPS Library of Translations, ofwhich Professor Eoyang's book is a new addition. But The Transparent Eye is more than a book on translation studies. The tide of the book, which alludes to a passage from Emerson quoted by Professor Eoyang on the front page, embodies die author's central concern: "how our observations of others reAect back on ourselves and the way we see" (xi). To readers who see an exotic world by means of a translation, the translator's eye is supposedly transparent, the less opaque the better. But, as the author argues convincingly in the book, Aie real situation is far more complicated than "meets Aie eye." The book addresses a range of theoretical issues currenAy debated in comparative literature, bringing a wide variety of theorists into the discussion. The reader may be surprised to learn that Aie current discussion on theory is relevant to translation studies, a marginal field which is really in the center. The book is certainly well-researched, demonstrating the author's erudition in Chinese and world literature and literary theories, as well as practical experience in literary translation. This book, therefore, is not only indispensable to scholars sharing an interest in translation studies but also valuable to scholars of comparative literature in general. The book comprises thirteen chapters. The first five chapters deal with Aie historical background of translation in general and the translation of Chinese literature into English in particular. The first chapter, '"Confound Their Language': The Mythologies of Translation," deals with the myths of originality, authenticity, and fidelity, which, the reader may immediately see, are relevant to current theoretical discussion. The author starts this chapter with a discussion of the biblical allegory ofthe Tower ofBabel, according to which the pre-Babelian monolingual world was turned into the Babelian world when the languages of humanity were made mutually incomprehensible. This world is superseded by the current "post-©iQQ b Uni t Babelian world," in which human languages have become mutually comprehenofHawai 'iPresss^e Airough translators and through multilingualism among speakers. This may sound Eurocentric and ethnocentric to non-Christians and people of non-Western cultures. But I cannot really think of a better way to start this book. After all, 98 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 this seems to be the only myth that deals with Aie diversity of human languages, which makes translation a necessity. The author then goes on to challenge some traditional notions related to translation. The first is the assumption that historical priority is the same as ontological superiority; that is, the original in time is also the more authentic and superior in value, an assumption Aiat regards translation as a kind of imitation and puts it in an inferior position. Related to this assumption is the myth of identity, the notion that the original exists as an integral entity, and the myAi of authenticity . The author points out that the whole Christian tradition is based on translation , as the Bible in the Hebrew original was lost for a long time and only partially found later. The Authorized Version, for example, was the only authentic Bible for the English world for many years. That a translated version replaces the lost original as the authentic version is often the case in history. We may add another case regarding the lost original of The SecretHistory of the Mongols. This is an important historical record of the Mongolian nation, recording the deeds of Genghis Khan in the twelfth and diirteenth centuries. It is also a masterpiece from a literary point ofview. The original version of the book was lost; even the auAior is unknown. For many years, Aie only auAientic version of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 97-104
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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