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Slaying the Chinese Jabberwock: Toward a Comparative Philosophy of Nonsense

Slaying the Chinese Jabberwock: Toward a Comparative Philosophy of Nonsense This article explores the meaning of “nonsense” as it is typically employed in discussions of nonsense literature. Definitions of nonsense vary widely and often pay little attention to cultural context or the phenomenology of reading. After surveying the problems with these definitions, the article then redefines nonsense experientially, that is, as the experience, in time, of rewarding sense-juggling inspired by a semantically ambiguous text that resists conclusive interpretation. This new definition is explored and defended from a comparative perspective through an analysis of the difficulties inherent in the process of translating Lewis Carroll's “Jabberwocky” from English into Chinese, using Chinese linguist Zhao Yuanren's (趙元任) early twentieth-century translation as a case study. Nonsense Lewis Carroll Zhao Yuanren translation Jabberwocky http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Slaying the Chinese Jabberwock: Toward a Comparative Philosophy of Nonsense

Comparative Literature , Volume 69 (3) – Sep 1, 2017

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright � Duke Univ Press
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-4164396
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the meaning of “nonsense” as it is typically employed in discussions of nonsense literature. Definitions of nonsense vary widely and often pay little attention to cultural context or the phenomenology of reading. After surveying the problems with these definitions, the article then redefines nonsense experientially, that is, as the experience, in time, of rewarding sense-juggling inspired by a semantically ambiguous text that resists conclusive interpretation. This new definition is explored and defended from a comparative perspective through an analysis of the difficulties inherent in the process of translating Lewis Carroll's “Jabberwocky” from English into Chinese, using Chinese linguist Zhao Yuanren's (趙元任) early twentieth-century translation as a case study. Nonsense Lewis Carroll Zhao Yuanren translation Jabberwocky

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2017

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