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Date 2021-03-12

Title

On the Origin of Translated Texts in Taiwan under Japanese Rule: “A Voyage to Lilliput” and “A Voyage to Brobdingnag”

Author

Hsu, Chun-Ya

Professor, Department of Chinese & Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University

Abstract

Newspapers in Taiwan under Japanese rule published many literary works in translation, some authored, some not. Texts of the latter kind are usually mistaken for Taiwanese literati’s works. This essay traces the original source of “A Voyage to Lilliput” and “A Voyage to Brobdingnag” published by Taiwan Ri-Ri-Xin Bao in Chinese translation. Based upon examination of historical materials and the results of textual analysis comparing them to other translated texts, it is reasonable to judge that these texts in Taiwan Ri-Ri-Xin Bao are copied from Cong-Wu Wei’s Chinese translation of Jonathan Swift’s novel, with various alterations. In this analysis, Wei’s achievement in translation is evaluated, in light of which it is concluded that the Taiwanese editors, in reprinting Wei’s texts, were quite unfamiliar with Western language and literature, let alone the historical background of Western culture and thought. Consequently, the sense of irony exhibited by Swift’s English text, and to at least a certain extent also by Wei’s translation, is largely lost in the Taiwanese version due to the editors’ alteration. This means the significance and value of this work of literature in translation under the Taiwanese socio-cultural background must be severely qualified by this re-evaluation. The results of this research refute what was previously said about this text, and emphasizes again the importance of historical evidence and the need for respect for original texts.

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