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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dream a little (dobi) dream : the manchu translation of dream tales in Liaozhai zhiyi Primmer, Sarah Jessi


This paper examines the 1848 Manchu translation of Pu Songling’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (Liaozhai zhiyi聊齋志異) by the Manchu translator Buljigen Jakdan. Though, like most depictions of Manchu translations of Chinese fiction, this text has typically been approached as a literal translation of little use to scholars, this paper draws from translation studies and views it instead as a commentary. Focusing on dream tales, in particular the story “A Fox Dream,” this paper examines Jakdan’s translation of the story within the context of assessments made by contemporaneous commentators. While late imperial commentators sought to police the boundaries between dream and reality that are continually crossed throughout this story – as per the anti-supernatural rhetoric prevalent at the time – Jakdan’s translation instead deliberately blurs the boundary between the two. By closely comparing Jakdan’s translation to the Chinese original, this paper throws Jakdan’s alterations into sharp relief. These include ambiguous word choices, vague phrasing, and several crucial omissions. By continually blurring the boundaries between what is a dream and what is not, the story is complicated even further, thus creating a version of the tale that is uniquely Jakdan’s.

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