De l'un an multiple: Traductions du chinois vers les langues eruopeenes. Edited by VIVIANE ALLETON and MICHAEL LACKNER. Paris: EDITIONS DE LA MAISON DES SCIENCES DE L'HOMME, 1999. Pp. 341. 195 F
Every serious scholar of Chinese studies is also a translator. But translation is not only an essential part of our work; it is also something we like to talk about: what approach to the task do we favor? what version of a text translated more than once do we prefer, and why? who are our preferred saints or sinners? The aim of this stimulating collection of fifteen papers is described by the editors in their introduction (both a French and an English version of the introduction are included, but I quote from the former because the grammar of the latter is less than perfect):
Le present ouvrage ne vise pas a elaborer une theorie de la traduction mais a mettre en scene les moments forts comme les defis de cette aventure qu'est la rencontre a travers les textes de deux societes eloignees dans l'espace (et, pour toute la tradition classique, dans le temps)--l'un des premieres questions etant de savoir si cette distance implique, comme on a parfois tendance a le croire, des differences fondamentales, que le traducteur serait impuissant a surmonter.
There have been many other collections of this sort published over the years, with the individual articles often being simply a venue for an author to display his own superiority to some carefully chosen rivals. In fact, one has grown to expect such books as a regular product of Sinological self-consciousness. However, the articles contained in this volume are of more than usual interest and value. This is mainly because most of the authors are more concerned with discussing matters of historical fact, context, and development than with demonstrating their own translation skills. That is to say, the emphasis is weighted more toward information than opinion.
The papers are divided into five sections: "Le jeu european des langues," "Des traducteurs d'envergure' "Le traducteur parle," "Les aleas des textes' and...