Translingualism and Autoexotic Translation in Shan Sa's Historical Novels

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The Franco-Chinese migrant woman writer Shan Sa left Beijing for Paris at the age of almost eighteen in 1990. After her settlement in France, French soon became her additional, increasingly dominant language of literary creation. This article examines Shan’s three self-acclaimed ‘historical’ novels about ancient China – Les Quatre vies du saule (Prix Cazes 1999), La Cithare nue (2010), and Impératrice (2003; Prix des Lecteurs 2005) – which were all originally written in French. The former two were adaptively (self-)translated into Chinese and diegetically re-organized and even expanded in their Chinese versions. The supernatural animism in the ‘willow’ and the ‘ancient zither’ – items imbued with significance in classical Chinese culture – sustains transhistorical narratives extending to modern time. In comparison, Impératrice is concerned with a translingual rewriting of the intriguing legend of Empress Wu during the Tang dynasty. Shan’s daring first-person treatment of female sexualities in ancient China via the French language offers an important epistemic reconfiguration of many existing accounts of this historical figure.
Drawing on Steven Kellman’s ‘translingual imagination’, this article additionally argues that the translingualism inherent in Shan’s (re-)creative process manifests itself as an autoexotic literary aesthetic and a continuous source of fabulation, opening up possibilities of narrative alterity.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

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Sidor (från-till)115-131
TidskriftEssays in French Literature and Culture
StatusPublished - 2018 nov
Peer review utfördJa


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