Type / Thesis

The Absence of the Translator: Behind Translation Piracy in Taiwan (1949-1990)

Sharon Tzu-yun Lai

Page / 29-65


This paper describes the large-scale piracy of translations of British and American literature in Taiwan during the Cold War Period (1949-1990). Taiwan in this period was dependent on the United States, politically, economically and culturally. English became the first foreign language for Taiwan people. However, roughly 40% of the translations of British and American literary texts in Taiwan were pirated from the translations published in China and Hong Kong. Taiwan’s book banning policy, the patronage of the U.S. government through World Today Press (Hong Kong), and business profits of local publishers all contributed to the decades-long pirating industry. The pirated titles included translations published in China, both before and after 1949, and those first published in Hong Kong. The political turmoil of the Cold War impeded the normal circulation of translations in the first place, causing the large-scale piracy. The piracy in turn contributed to the general ignorance to the identities of translators. Bibliographies of translated literature in Taiwan contain so many errors, including fake translators’ names and wrong publishing dates and places, that the study of translation history is almost impossible. Since those not-here translators contributed significantly to Taiwan’s translation history, we should make clear the “translatorship” of the titles before a history of Taiwan’s translation could be written.

Keywords : British and American Literature, translation piracy, book-banning policy, KMT-CCP relation
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