Type / Thesis

Walter Benjamin and Gilles Deleuze on Translation: The Case of Lin Shu and Xueh Shaohui

Hanping Chiu

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This paper compares the translation theory of Walter Benjamin with the visions of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari on transformation, using as a catalyst the cases of Lin Shu and Xueh Shaohui, the two Chinese involved in translation projects during the transitional period between the Qing Dynasty and the Republican period of China in the early twentieth century. The choice of Lin and Xueh as the starting basis is made mainly on their joint translation ventures that trigger the rethinking of what translation is all about. Lin and Xueh, in their respective endeavors, put down into Chinese what their co-workers dictated orally from interpreting the original texts, instead of alone doing the translation. Either Lin or Xueh, in recording, rephrasing or embellishing the language, does not count as a translator, according to Benjamin in “The Task of the Translator,” for the people working with them have single-handedly accomplished the task of translation.
In the views of Deleuze and Guattari, the joint translation ventures may forge a relationship of what they call rhizome or friendship. On the thread of this thought, alliance is valued above filiation, bringing along deterritorialization in its wake, as any two things may form a rhizome. Emerging out of a jumping from one territory to another, or from one race to another, is transduction or transcoding, which differs from translation in not being carried on by a translator. Friendship is explored to see how it may affect the putting into words what one party hears in the process of translation.

Keywords : translation, rhizome, Lin Shu, Xueh Shaohui, Benjamin, Deleuze
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