Beyond the self  : David Copperfield and autobiography

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)Chapter in research book/monograph/textbook (Author)

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCharles Dickens and China, 1895-1915
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Cultural Encounters
EditorsKlaudia Hiu Yen Lee
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter2
Pages55-85
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-57135-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-4724-6703-4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2016

Abstract

The question that the narrator poses in the opening of David Copperfield (1849-50) encapsulates the essence of the autobiographical form which Dickens uses to articulate a unique bourgeois subject. The construction of a unique individual has long been the focus of Western autobiographical tradition, and the narrator’s emphasis on the attainment of the status of a hero also echoes many Victorians’ belief in the role of individual great men in historical development.2 In this chapter I shall investigate how when it was first translated by Lin Shu in collaboration with Wei Yi (and was released under the title Kuai Rou Yu Sheng Shu) in 1908,3 the idiosyncratic ‘self’ in the original text is displaced by a greater emphasis on the situatedness of the self against specific historic moments. The changes that were introduced to the text during the cross-cultural transfer, as I shall demonstrate, reflect the influence of a Chinese life-writing tradition, especially as it relates to Chinese historiography. The act of constructing the ‘self’, and of re-rendering the self from one cultural context to another can often reveal the values and culture not only of the author and translators but also the society in both the original and recipient cultures. This reciprocal relationship will be explored in detail in this chapter; it will also look into the extent to which an attention to the psychological development of the self – one which defines the bourgeois subject in Western autobiographical tradition – has been displaced during the process of cross-cultural transfer.

Citation Format(s)

Beyond the self  : David Copperfield and autobiography. / Lee, Klaudia Hiu Yen.

Charles Dickens and China, 1895-1915: Cross-Cultural Encounters. ed. / Klaudia Hiu Yen Lee. 1st. ed. Routledge, 2016. p. 55-85.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)Chapter in research book/monograph/textbook (Author)