Ying Jun LI

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)



First Advisor

Prof. Leo Chan

Second Advisor

Dr. Julie Chiu


Three different English translations of Lao She’s (老舍) Luotuo Xiangzi (骆驼祥子) were marketed in the USA from 1945 to 2005. What are the major historical occurrences and trends from the late 19th to the early 21st century that define the contexts of these translations? Beginning with an analysis of the stylistic features of each translation, the present study explores how each of the three translators and the corresponding historical context impacted on the production of the translated text, its marketing orientation and its reception in the USA.

With a comparison of the three translated texts and their meta-textual features, the study seeks to reveal the attitude of each translator and their translation strategies, which are, to a large extent, decreed by their historical times. The first translation Rickshaw Boy (1945) was a market success because it met the requirement of popular fiction and echoed the prevailing preconception about China immediately after the WWII. The second translation Rickshaw (1979) was an academic production associated with the revival of Sino-US diplomacy in the 1970s. The third translation Camel Xiangzi (1981), which was produced in China but published in both China and the USA, originated from China’s wish to be better known by the world; while the reprint of Camel Xiangzi in 2005 by a Hong Kong publisher represented a new era when Chinese cultural products were turned into profitable commodities in the global cultural market.

The production and circulation of the three translations can be studied as historical texts themselves. The three translations, which are connected to all the great events since WWII, show the change of the Chinese image in the American media. They also shed light on the evolution of Chinese literary studies in American academia, which has gradually become an independent discipline during the same period.

Recommended Citation

Li, Y. J. (2007). Context, translator and history: A study of three translations of Luotuo Xiangzi in the USA (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from