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From Study to Stage: Exemplified by Two Chinese Versions of King Lear in View of Skopostheorie

Author: LvZuoZuo
Tutor: RenDongSheng
School: Ocean University of China
Course: Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords: translation done in the study translation for stage King Lear Skopostheorie drama ethos
CLC: H315.9
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 51
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Shakespeare is the greatest playwright and poet at the English Renaissance time. Not bound to rules and laws, his plays break the boundaries between comedy and tragedy, try to reflect the true color of life and probe deeply into characters’inner mysteries. Shakespeare’s plays are circulated all over the world for their comprehensive themes, generality and profound thought. However, the circulation of his plays in China is just another case.As early as 1853, the name of Shakespeare was first mentioned in A Brief Review of Britain written by Chen Fengheng. In 1904, with the publication of Lin Shu and Wei Yi’s translation of Tales from Shakespeare (rewritten by the Lambs), Chinese people became acknowledged with Shakespeare’s plays. Tian Han translated the complete Hamlet in 1921 (previous translations were fragmentary). Liang Shiqiu was the first Chinese scholar who has single-handedly translated the complete works of Shakespeare into Chinese from 1930 to 1967. In 1947, Zhu Shenghao firstly adopted the vernacular Chinese to do the translation. And nowadays abundant Chinese versions of Shakespeare’s plays exist in China. Moreover, the circulation of Shakespeare’s plays profits greatly from the Chinese’s adaptation and stage performance. According to Chinese scholars, the adapting and performing of Shakespeare’s plays are composed of mainly three periods: the trial period, the maturity period and the penetration period. At the early years of the Republic of China, Wang Guoren adapted Hamlet into Sichuan opera, which creates a precedent of the Chinese’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays. Since 1980s, Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted and performed into Chinese traditional operas many times. Up until now 26 plays of Shakespeare have been adapted into 21 Chinese traditional operas and put on stage in succession. This phenomenon (adapting Shakespeare’s plays into Chinese traditional operas) is worthy researching.The life of drama lies not only in being translated into foreign languages, but also in stage performance. As for the drama texts, their lives are shown only when they are being performed on stage. Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into many languages and many of them have been re-translated (adapted) and performed on stage in the target cultures. This thesis defines the purely literary translation of Shakespeare’s plays as“translation done in the study”and the adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays into Chinese traditional operas as“translation for stage”. These two translations are both favorable to the circulation of his plays; however, clear differences exist between them as well.This thesis has selected two versions of Shakespeare’s King Lear as the research case, aiming to analyze the differences between the two versions in translation style, language use and wording in perspective of Skopostheorie. It is well-known that the life of plays is lively and fresh when put on stage, while“translation done in the study”is of purely literary characters. This way of translating can assist readers to be acknowledged with dramas, but cannot vividly show dramas’ethos.“Translation for stage”should find a nearest approach to“translation done in the study”so as to convey the ethos of a drama. The author indicates that to better reproduce the education and aesthetic functions of Shakespeare’plays in the target cultures, a“cooperative translation”constituted by translators and directors/actors is required, thus minimizing the distance between“translation done in the study”and“translation for stage”as far as possible.

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