“Carnal” Text with “Abstinent” Translator: The Tension of “Sex” in English Translation of Chin P’ing Mei by David Tod Roy

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Nie Tao


In 2013, the complete English version of Chin P’ing Mei has eventually come out after 30 – year – long work of David Tod Roy. Encountering Chin P’ing Mei, Roy, Born in a missionary family, has devoted whole life to express his own appeals and admonitions for “abstinence” beneath the “carnal” original texts. This article will meticulously research on Roy’s way of dealing with “sexual descriptions” in his translation version. On foundation of analyzing the translation itself, a variety of vice text will also be taken into consideration, including annotations attached to the translation, course notes from his lectures at the University of Chicago and interviews he previously accepted. Finally, it is pointed out the fact that Ray’s “faithful” restoration of the “sex” tensions in translation version is in fact heavily tinged with literary criticism. He hopes to not only rehabilitate Chin P’ing Mei from mass prejudices, but also reflect his “abstinence view” when understanding this most “carnal” classical Chinese literature.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Mutual Learning among Civilizations through Comparative Literature