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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Sanmao (1943-91), author of over 19 books, is well known in Chinese-speaking communities for her travel writing. The present work offers a critical introduction to Sanmao’s life and work as well as an English translation of three selections from her most recognized travelogue, among both general readers and critics, Stories of the Sahara (1976). This text recounts her experience of travelling in the Western Sahara with her husband José María Quero y Ruíz from Spain. Chapter 1 introduces Sanmao’s career, her travel narratives, and the extant scholarship on her work to the English-speaking audience. More specifically, it highlights her time living in the Western Sahara among three cultures and languages—Chinese, Spanish, and Sahrawi—and contextualizes Stories of the Sahara, especially drawing attention to moments that require special care when the text is moved from Chinese to English. Next, this chapter focuses on the central role that language and translation play in Sanmao’s travel writing. This analysis is informed by Roman Jakobson’s classification of translation as used to study travel literature by Michael Cronin. I provide a discussion of my choices concerning translating the texture of the Western Sahara and the linguistic aspects of Sanmao’s writing, as well as the characteristics of Sanmao’s legacy that I attempt to emphasize through my translation. Chapter 2 includes my English translation of three texts from Stories of the Sahara. A brief introduction and a short conclusion open and close this thesis.


First Advisor

Regina Galasso