"Take it with a grain of MSG" : reading translated literatures from other shores

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Book chapter

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Literature in translation : teaching issues and reading practices

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The Kent State University Press


In this age of globalization, transcoding is prevalent, ranging from adopting Unicode as the universal standard for digitizing all the scripts in the world to thematizing a foreign literary text as if it were a local story but scripted in a different language. In both cases, the other’s mode of inscription or structure of meaning is regarded as dispensable or secondary to the content, or data, to be processed and distributed by the megamachine that levels out all the differences of codes, temporalities, and localities. Against such a technocultural background, I propose in this essay that literatures translated and read in contexts radically different from the ones in which they were composed may teach us important lessons about the perils of transcoding and may prepare us, in the words of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “for a patient and provisional and forever deferred arrival into the performance of the other”. Between impatient transcoding and patient response, Spivak reminds us, “there is a world of difference”.

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Copyright © 2010 by The Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio 44242. All rights reserved.

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ISBN of the source publication: 9781606351086

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Recommended Citation

Huang, Y. (2010). "Take it with a grain of MSG": Reading translated literatures from other shores. In C. Maier & F. Massardier-Kenney (Eds.), Literature in translation: Teaching issues and reading practices (pp. 43-52). Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press.