Archive for May, 2007

Pearls of Wisdom from Journey to the West

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 by Lara

1) The clever people do all the work: clumsy oafs just sit around.
2) Even a fart can strengthen a breeze.

Why are translations of Chinese so long in English?

Saturday, May 19th, 2007 by Lara

Moss Roberts’s translations of Three Kingdoms is three volumes long; the Jenner translation of Journey to the West takes four volumes in tiny print. I’ve seen these books in Chinese, and each one is one volume long, in nicely-sized Chinese.

OK, Roberts’s translation includes a lot of maps, history and notes so we westerners can figure out the details of the action, but there’s no such excuse for Jenner. Why do translations of Chinese go on so long? It’s a little intimidating to novice non-Chinese readers.

The Monkey King meets the Amazons in Journey to the West: Chapters 53 and 54

Saturday, May 19th, 2007 by Lara

I’ve just gotten to the part where the four Buddhists get to Womanland. This is amazing stuff, both because of the author’s blindness to any actual desires women might have to live outside the Chinese paradigm, and because there are similar stories in western lit about the land of the Amazons – a men-free zone. And of course there’s the rather dull humor involving male pregnancy, ho ho. But it makes a really nice break from all that tedious demon-busting!

A Tale of Three Translations

Sunday, May 13th, 2007 by Lara and Mei

Here are three different ways to translate the same Chinese text from the opening paragraph of the “Story of Three Kingdoms”. The first version is a direct, close translation by Mei. The second version is reworked by Lara. The third version is a looser translation by Moss Roberts, a sinologist who published a translation of the whole book. Vote on your favourite approach (poll at the end):

Testing a poll

Monday, May 7th, 2007 by Mei Lara

Our first poll, just for fun:

Will people come to read great translations of fascinating Chinese literature?
View Results

Hello world!

Saturday, May 5th, 2007 by Mei Lara

Welcome to Tales Across The Sea!

Tales Across the Sea is a site created by two friends from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean. We want to share, translate, and discuss materials between China and the U.S., ranging from the classics of Chinese literature to Gong-Fu movies. Our aim is to have fun, build a translation business, and create versions of Chinese culture that are accessible to westerners. If the Chinese folks learn a little about western culture as well, all the better!