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Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Ashibe Taku, Japanese detective fiction, translation studies, Dream of the Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin, transnationalism, Qing fiction, Honglou meng
In 2004 Japanese author Ashibe Taku published his novel Murder in the Red Chamber, in which he adapted Cao Xueqin’s eighteenth-century Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber as a compelling murder mystery. In 2008 I would take on the challenge of translating Ashibe’s novel into English. This required me to draw on a wealth of primary and secondary materials. Not only did I have to familiarize myself with the novel’s peculiarities, but also with those of its Chinese source. Over these layers of text I fashioned yet another from my own engagements with Western detective fiction. In order to reconcile these disparate cultural understandings of detection and law, I assumed the role of detective myself in navigating at least two cultural milieus at any given time. Consequently, I found myself empathizing with Ashibe’s characters in an entirely new way. This thesis is a case study that investigates two questions: (1) What does it mean when the translator’s method mimics—in the target text—that of the author of the source text? (2) How have murder mystery paradigms been displaced and/or embedded in my chosen text through this process of cross-cultural rewriting? In exploring these questions I have developed a kinship with Ashibe, for we are both rewriters seeking to flesh out the evidence laid before us into admissible testimony. Whether or not I “solved the case” of this translation matters less than the adding of another layer in another language with the intent of enriching the whole.
Amanda C Seaman