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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Event date: 
Thursday, 28 April, 2022 - 14:00
Event organiser: 

China Research Seminar Series talk given by Dr Barbara Bisetto, University of Verona

Registration Required

Xixiang ji yanyi (1918) by Yu Xuelun is a modern narrative retelling of the love story between scholar Zhang and Cui Yingying, first celebrated in the Tang dynasty tale Yingying zhuan (or Huizhen ji) by Yuan Zhen and later immortalized in the theatrical adaptation Xixiang ji by Wang Shifu. Written in a lively literary Chinese, the novel creatively combines elements derived from its primary literary sources mediated via the commentary on Xixiang ji written by Jin Shengtan in the seventeenth century. Two terms in the paratextual apparatus concur to define the process of intertextual mediation informing the narrative retelling. The first one is yanyi (lit. elaboration of the meaning), which appears in the title. The second one is yi (translation), which repeatedly features in the prefatory and concluding remarks at the beginning and end of the novel. In this talk, I will explore how these practices of textual manipulation combine in the reconfiguration of the story of Zhang and Yingying. I will examine the strategies the author adopted at the macro-and microstructural level to produce his creative retelling and consider what this novel may reveal about the dynamics between yanyi and translation in the Chinese literary system and the history of translation in China.

Barbara Bisetto holds a Ph. D. in Asian Studies from the University Ca’ Foscari Venice and is currently Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Verona. Her research interests focus on practices of metaliterary communication in the premodern period, particularly the role of commentary, anthologies, and miscellaneous collections in organizing and transmitting knowledge in the premodern textual culture. She is currently working on a project on the category of yanyi from the perspective of translation practices and textual genres.

Professor Adam Yuet Chau: