The Retranslation of Walden and its Canonization in China

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Zhang Mingjuan


The paper holds that retranslation is the main path leading to canonization of foreign works. Thoreau’s Walden, a masterpiece in American literature, has now become a great work of world literature through translation. It has been re – translated for nearly 40 times in China ever since its first translation in 1949 showing no sign of aging, inviting future translations to join in the translational event. This paper maps the retranslation history of Walden, compares and contrasts different versions and examines the the motives and reasons of that re – translating which include such factors as the pursuit of literary quality, ideology and market. Walden has found its way in students’ Chinese textbooks. Famous writers and poets such as Wei – an and Hai – zi who read these translated versions were greatly inspired by Thoreau. Retranslation plays a major role in the process of canonization of Walden in China.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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World Literature and National Literature