Transpacific Theatre: Lin Yutang’s Self-translation as a Creative Act

Yangyang Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines Lin Yutang’s self-translation of his Chinese play Zi Jian Nan Zi (子见南子) as Confucius Saw Nancy for the 1930s American audience, in order to explore the creativity manifested in the process of translation that secures the performability of the translated play. Drawing upon Lin’s understanding of the notion of “self-translation”, namely, what he sees as a movement between identities of his Chinese self and English-speaking Other, this article analyses three strategies that he adopts to reinvent the original text for American audiences: the mirroring-effect, musicality and stage directions. It argues that the performability of this Chinese play demands both linguistic and dramaturgical intervention from the translator. Keenly aware that a translated play, like the original, is staged by actors for a live audience, Lin intends to create a new play that demonstrates his understanding of self-translation as what goes beyond a mere search for the equivalence of meanings between the source and target texts. This article concludes that for Lin what begins with self-translation eventually leads to an elaborate creation, and it is this creation generated by his concern with the audience over time that secures the performability of the play.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 Nov 2019


  • Lin Yutang
  • theatre
  • self-translation
  • performability
  • creativity
  • transpacific


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