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Visiting elements thought to be 'inactive' : non-human actors in Arthur Waley’s translation of Journey to the West.

Luo, Wenyan and Zheng, Binghan (2017) 'Visiting elements thought to be 'inactive' : non-human actors in Arthur Waley’s translation of Journey to the West.', Asia Pacific translation and intercultural studies. .


This paper applies actor–network theory (ANT) to study the non-human agents that participate in the translation and publication process of Monkey, an English translation of the Chinese classic Xi You Ji. The materials used consist mainly of the letters exchanged between the publisher George Allen & Unwin, the translator Arthur Waley, and the jacket and title page designer Duncan Grant. Moreover, the “Preface” of the translation written by the translator himself and the publisher’s autobiography are referenced as additional sources of information. The research reveals two groups of entities which act as what ANT scholars term as “non-human actors”. The first group consists of texts, more specifically, the “Preface” to Monkey and some letters exchanged between Waley as a translator and Unwin as a publisher, which reveals the reasons of re-translating Monkey and the translation strategy used. The second group includes the Second World War and the influenza epidemic in the 1940s that impeded the reprinting of Monkey. The paper concludes that, in addition to human actors, non-human actors that have also actively exerted influences on both the process and the outcome of a major translation project deserve to receive more attention when looking at translation as a social activity.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Asia Pacific translation and intercultural studies on 14/09/2017 available online:
Date accepted:18 August 2017
Date deposited:19 September 2017
Date of first online publication:14 September 2017
Date first made open access:14 September 2018

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