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Title: A study of the translations of Li Bai's Yuefu poems
Authors: Cheng, Tadjudin Yu Yun
Keywords: Humanities::Language::Linguistics
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Cheng, T. Y. Y. (2022). A study of the translations of Li Bai's Yuefu poems. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: Li Bai, perhaps China’s greatest poet, is the most important influence in the history of Tang poetry, especially in the genre of yuefu, an essential part of classical Chinese poetry. Although the translation of Li Bai’s poems, especially his yuefu, is challenging due to linguistic, cultural and literary differences, many translators have produced effective translations. But few studies have been done to examine the translations of yuefu, if and how the existing translations of his yuefu effectively convey the original text's style, beauty and elegance. This dissertation will address this gap and employ qualitative approach to see whether there is an effective translation strategy that will do full justice to Li Bai’s work. This dissertation is a comparative examination of the translations of two of Li Bai’s yuefu poems, focussing on their lyrical subject and visual imagery by using three Chinese poetic features fu-bi-xing. The two chosen poems are “Invitation to Wine (将进酒)” and “Hard is the Way of the World—part 1 (行路难其一)”, and the three translations of each poem chosen for analysis are by Witter Bynner, Stephen Owen, and Xu Yuanchong. The dissertation examines the key differences and similarities between Chinese and English and their poetic traditions, as well as the different interpretations and approaches of the translators. It also looks at language discourse in literature, and uses Peter Newmark ideas of semantic translation and communicative translation to evaluate the effectiveness of each translation of Li Bai’s two poems. The study of each translation examines the persona, metaphorical language and imagery to assess how effectively the translators interpret the poems and deal with the challenge of form and meaning in poetic translation.
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