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Oriental Other: The Business Of Translating Chinese And American Cultures

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the strategy and effects of Lin Yutang's cross-cultural representation of Chinese culture (as well as American culture) in relation to the problem of the cosmopolitan identity he assumed in playing the role of the cross-cultural agent. Lin Yutang's literary practices in America were very much related to his friendship with Richard J. Walsh and his wife Pearl S. Buck. Pearl Buck tried to distance herself from the missionary arrogance, but her attempt to humanize Chinese peasant on a universal ground still betrays the underlying patronizing assumption that the Chinese are of a different race whose happiness is "Chinese happiness". Lin Yutang felt the sweet-bitterness of his reputation as a "Chinese philosopher," since the essential assumption of that name is the role of an oriental other. Such nature of Lin's cross-cultural agency severely undermines the effect of Lin's translation of Chinese culture into the target language.

Keywords: American culture; Chinese culture; Chinese peasant; Chinese philosopher; cross-cultural translation; Pearl S. Buck; Richard J. Walsh

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