Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddhism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

More than one cook improves the broth. Nicky Harman gives a shout-out for literary team translation.

There are famous historical precedents for translators working as a team. This is especially true in religious texts. One of the greatest projects of all time, the translations of the Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit into Chinese, was carried by teams of translators working in a government department. The British Library not only has a collection of sutras in Chinese, their website also has an interesting article about the translators and the translations.

In more recent times, the Bible (notably the St James’ version) and bible commentaries have been translated by committees. So what are the challenges? I found this useful comment from one of the translators of Hermeneutics in Romans: Paul's Approach to Reading the Bible by Timo Laato. ‘Translating as a team is a difficult process. I find it to be a deeply personal endeavor and every translator I know attacks projects and translation problems differently. [On] taking over [my predecessors’] work…[t]he first thing I had to do was read the original and their translation in tandem, to see what their word and style choices had been for translation. A translation is going to suffer more than continuity if a second translator decides to use a slightly different word than the one originally used. Often a translator can choose from up to five or six words all with different shades of meaning to use for almost every word on a page.’

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Reading (and writing) about someplace else: Mishi Saran

Nicky Harman interviews Mishi Saran, writer of fiction and non-fiction, and long-time resident of Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Mishi Saran, photo by Tripti Lahiri

 Q: Serendipitously, I wrote about Xuanzang (Tripitaka) as a translator of Buddhist sutras in my last blog post here, and you have written a wonderful book, Chasing the Monk’s Shadow, in which you follow in the footsteps of Xuanzang from China to India. Did you feel like you got an insight into his character when you were writing the book?
A: I was drawn to Xuanzang as a traveller who braved the miles from China to India and back. A Chinese monk with an India obsession, an Indian woman with a China craze; he and I were destined to meet. To follow his route to India, I mostly consulted two Tang dynasty accounts translated into English by Samuel Beal (1825-1889). One was Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World, by Hiuen Tsiang in two volumes, and the other The Life of
 Hiuen-Tsiang, translated from the Chinese of Shaman Hwui Li. 
Poring daily over those pages for month after month on the road, seeking clues to Xuanzang’s passage 1400 years before me, I became attuned to the cadences of Xuanzang-via-Beal; how little he gave away of his inner state of mind, how stringently he observed and recorded. Xuanzang’s biographer was rather more colourful, and inevitably, hagiographic. Still, Xuanzang was my travel companion, my Chinese guide who unfolded India for me. Not infrequently, I talked to the monk in my head. It became a game for me, to extrapolate human feelings from scant clues embedded in the text. I found fear, homesickness, wonder, a certain amount of gullibility, a good deal of luck. It is an astonishing record.    

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

In Homage to the first Buddhist translators, and Martha Cheung

Nicky Harman onBuddhism a wonderful exhibition in London’s British Library displaying Buddhist art and literature from all over East Asia.

 All pictures are my own from the exhibition, 
unless otherwise captioned
As a translator, I have what you could call a professional interest in Buddhist texts translated into Chinese. This may sound odd, because I can’t understand their meaning, let alone critique them as translations. But I am always moved when I see the crystal-clear calligraphy of the sutras, first written down in Chinese fifteen hundred years ago or more, and yet completely familiar today. So I visited the exhibition hoping to find out more about some of my favourite translators. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

A New Kid on the Block for Literary Nonprofits






Paper Republic is proud to announce that it is now a UK-registered charity no. 1182259. Paper Republic was set up by Eric Abrahamsen in 2008 as a blog site where we translators of Chinese literature could share our thoughts, our joys and our frustrations. Since then we have developed a variety of other activities and gained a gratifying degree of recognition: "If you need to know something about Chinese literature you start here," said one of the judges at the 2016 London Book Fair Literary Excellence Award, where we were runners-up. "Paper Republic demonstrates superb collaborative working across a number of platforms including their growing networks, their redesigned website and innovative live activities.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission. Guest post by Dorothy Wong

Dorothy C. Wong is Professor of Art and Director of the East Asian Center at the University of Virginia. She has published Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form (2004; Chinese edition 2011), Hōryūji Reconsidered (editor and contributing author, 2008), and China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-regional Connections (co-editor with Gustav Heldt, and contributing author, 2014). Her most recent book is Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770.

In the mid-seventh century, a class of Buddhist pilgrim-monks disseminated an art style in China, Japan, and Korea that was uniform in both iconography and formal properties. Traveling between the courts and religious centers of the region, these pilgrim-monks played a powerful role in this proto-cosmopolitanism, promulgating what came to be known as the International Buddhist Art Style.    

Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770 investigates the formation and circulation of an East Asian International Buddhist Art Style by focusing on the role played by Buddhist missionaries and pilgrim-monks as agents of cultural and artistic transmissions.

So, over to Dorothy...