Transcultural novels and translating cultures: François Cheng's Le Dit de Tianyi and L'éternité n'est pas de trop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the two French-language novels by the Franco-Chinese migrant writer François Cheng, Le Dit de Tianyi (1998) and L'éternité n'est pas de trop (2002), and proposes to conceptualize them as two novelistic models of cultural translation. Cheng's engagement with, and departure from, canonical Western novelistic models such as Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu in Le Dit reveals his 'comparatist' ambition to reorient Western cultural heritage by putting it into dialogue with that of the East. L'éternité, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with a translingual rewriting of Chinese literary traditions such as that of classical romance. While the first model applies principles of analogy, the second reflects a more traditional conception of translation that emphasizes faithfulness and authenticity. The two models are mutually complementary rather than exclusive. The study pays special attention to Cheng's 'Chinese-inked' French language and style, highlighting the aesthetic innovations and challenges in Cheng's transcultural writings.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Specific Literatures


  • cultural translation, Franco-Chinese literature, François Cheng, Marcel Proust, transcultural writing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-199
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch