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Contemporary Sino-French CinemasAbsent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons$
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Michelle E. Bloom

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824851583

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824851583.001.0001

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Translations of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Translations of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

(p.139) Chapter 4 Translations of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas

Michelle E. Bloom

University of Hawai'i Press

Shifting to the mainland and to more historically, politically and socioeconomically-oriented films, this chapter characterizes mainland émigré to France Dai Sijie’s cinematic adaptation of his novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, (2001) as intermedial translation. Both novel and film also translate the historical event of the “Cultural Revolution,” and do so cross-culturally, for a French audience. In addition, interlingual translation plays an important role in the constellation of Dai’s Balzac texts, reaching back to his 1989 black and white feature, China, My Sorrow. In the more recent works, the protagonists Ma and Luo, undergoing “re-education” in Sichuan province, engage in a “mission civilisatrice,” reciting Chinese translations of banned French books to the eponymous character. French literature accounts for the seamstress’s pygmalionesque metamorphosis, inspiring her to leave Phoenix Mountain, unrealistically. Dai demonstrates the power of words and translation no less than mistranslation, tropes which facilitate Sino-French connections.

Keywords:   Dai Sijie, Cultural Revolution, Sichuan province, re-education, censorship, adaptation, translation, civilizing mission, Pygmalion

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