To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
China and Inner Asia
In Session: China in Many Languages: Minority Literatures and the Politics of Translation
1: Strange Tales from Manchu Studios: Manchu Language Translations of Liaozhai Zhiyi
Monday, March 22, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Harvard University, United States
Manchu language translations are typically treated by scholars with a dismissive-at-best attitude. The notable exception to this is the work of Jakdan (Zhakedan) (1780s-?). Beloved by scholars today for his poetry and singled out for his flowing translation of Pu Songling’s story collection Liaozhai zhiyi (Ma. Sonjofi ubaliyambuha liyoo jai jy i bithe; Ch. Zefan Liaozhai zhiyi), Jakdan has been given unique near-celebrity status by the Manchu Studies community. However, Jakdan’s work is not nearly as singular as scholarship would indicate. Not only was he only one among several in the Qing who translated canonical works of Chinese literature into Manchu, he was neither the first nor the last to tackle Liaozhai zhiyi.
This paper aims to situate Jakdan’s translation within the corpus of Manchu language translations of Chinese fiction. On the one hand it considers Jakdan’s translation practices within the history of other translation projects, viewing his work not as an oddity but rather part of a gradually evolving translation tradition. On the other it compares Jakdan’s translation of Liaozhai zhiyi to that of a later anonymous translation, titled Simacuka bithei boode encu babe ejehe bithe. Unpacking the differences between these two, this paper will explore the wide range of expression available to Manchu translators, suggesting the diversity of the culture of translation in which they operated and offering a re-consideration of Manchu-language translations in the Qing period.