Another Type of ‘Old Tales Retold’
Translation and Self-Translation, Intertextuality and Self-Intertextuality in Zhang Ailing’s Works
This papers deals with Zhang Ailing’s (1920-1995) posthumous novel, Xiao tuanyuan 小团圆 (Little Reunions), written in the ’70s of the last century but completed just before her death, finally published only in 2009, which is an example of the continuous manipulation of the same narrative materials used in previous works, and re-presented here through a politics of self-translation and self-intertextuality. In translating this novel one is confronted with a complex “mosaic of quotations” as Kristeva says, and self-quotations, and is dragged into a forest of meanings derived from the juxtaposition of a variety of external ‘voices’ that mix up with the internal voice of the author. This Bachtinian or babelian quality of the novel, in other words its pluri- and interdiscursivity, challenges the translator, who is called not only to reconstruct the original sources of the allusions, but is also caught between the need of disambiguation and the respect of the intertextual connections implied by the text; he/she has also to cope with the deliberate narrative fragmentation adopted by Zhang.