Haun Saussy - "Translation as Citation" - Rosanna Warren

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Haun Saussy

Haun Saussy discusses Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out. He will be joined in conversation by Rosanna Warren

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, not required)

About the book: This volume examines translation from many different angles: it explores how translations change the languages in which they occur, how works introduced from other languages become part of the consciousness of native speakers, and what strategies translators must use to secure acceptance for foreign works.

Haun Saussy argues that translation doesn't amount to the composition, in one language, of statements equivalent to statements previously made in another language. Rather, translation works with elements of the language and culture in which it arrives, often reconfiguring them irreversibly: it creates, with a fine disregard for precedent, loan-words, calques, forced metaphors, forged pasts, imaginary relationships, and dialogues of the dead. Creativity, in this form of writing, usually considered merely reproductive, is the subject of this book.

The volume takes the history of translation in China, from around 150 CE to the modern period, as its source of case studies. When the first proponents of Buddhism arrived in China, creativity was forced upon them: a vocabulary adequate to their purpose had yet to be invented. A Chinese Buddhist textual corpus took shape over centuries despite the near-absence of bilingual speakers. One basis of this translating activity was the rewriting of existing Chinese philosophical texts, and especially the most exorbitant of all these, the collection of dialogues, fables, and paradoxes known as the Zhuangzi. The Zhuangzi also furnished a linguistic basis for Chinese Christianity when the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci arrived in the later part of the Ming dynasty and allowed his friends and associates to frame his teachings in the language of early Daoism. It would function as well when Xu Zhimo translated from The Flowers of Evil in the 1920s. The chance but overdetermined encounter of Zhuangzi and Baudelaire yielded a 'strange music' that retroactively echoes through two millennia of Chinese translation, outlining a new understanding of the translator's craft that cuts across the dividing lines of current theories and critiques of translation.

About the author: Haun Saussy is University Professor at the University of Chicago, in Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought. His previous books include The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (1993), Great Walls of Discourse and Other Adventures in Cultural China (2001), The Ethnography of Rhythm: Orality and its Technologies (2016), and, as editor or co-editor, Chinese Women Poets: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism (2000), Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (2006), Sinographies: Writing China (2007), Fenollosa/Pound, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: A Critical Edition (2009), Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader (2010), and A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep Hidden: Selected Writings of Li Zhi (2016). He contributes to the collective blog Printculture. His next project is tentatively entitled The Nine Relays: Laying the Ground for a Comparative History of East Asian Literatures

About the interlocutor: Rosanna Warren teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her book of criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, came out in 2008. Her most recent books of poems are Departure (2003) and Ghost in a Red Hat (2011). She is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. She was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago 60637