Are classical Chinese and modern Chinese one language, or two? Is translating classical Chinese poetry the same as or different from translating modern Chinese poetry? I have earlier argued that modern Chinese poetry is in some ways a translation of premodern Chinese poetics through the filter of international poetics—but if this is the case, then should translation of classical and modern poetry into English be more similar than they are? Looking at Lydia Liu’s notion of the “supersign” alongside my experiences translating contemporary poets Ouyang Jianghe and Xi Chuan as well as Tang dynasty poet Li Shangyin, I discuss what I call “weak interpretations” and “strong interpretations” and how they play out in the translational alignment of classical and modern Chinese poetry with poetry in English today.
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Klein, L. (2017). Strong and Weak Interpretations in Translating Chinese Poetry. Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese, 14(2)-15(1), 7-43.