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Monkey’s journey to the West: How manifold versions of one translation help to disseminate a classic Chinese original

Luo, W. and Zheng, B. (2022) 'Monkey’s journey to the West: How manifold versions of one translation help to disseminate a classic Chinese original.', in Encountering China’s Past: Translation and Dissemination of Classical Chinese Literature. Singapore: Springer. New Frontiers in Translation Studies.


Many efforts have been paid to facilitate the world-wide circulation of Journey to the West, a classical Chinese literary canon. This article studies the dissemination of Journey by focusing on one of its many English translations, namely, Monkey: A Folk-tale of China. Monkey was first translated by Arthur David Waley and originally published by George Allen & Unwin in London in 1942. Based on actor-network theory, this research explores the agents that generated, and the dynamics that underpinned the network of translations (different versions of Monkey), which in turn extensively increased the circulation of the translation (Monkey). Discussions will be made based on the correspondence exchanged between a wide range of translation agents participating in the production of the English versions and the many re-translations of Monkey. Supporting data from other sources such as A Bibliography of Arthur Waley (Johns 1988) will be referenced where necessary. Through analysing how translation agents assembled, together with necessary resources (i.e., people and material objects), to produce and promote Monkey, the article reveals the very particular and practical translational and material conditions under which the many versions of Monkey were produced and disseminated. The article emphasises that, besides the translator, publishers were crucial in translation production and promotion, and therefore, publisher agencies should not be downplayed in translation studies.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:22 February 2022
Date deposited:09 March 2022
Date of first online publication:2022
Date first made open access:No date available

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