ABSTRACT

The present study begins with a brief translation history of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms in France, Italy, and Spain, showing that, due to the novel’s anti-war and anti-fascist nature, in many cases its translations were shaped not only by cultural and literary factors, but also by socio-political and economic factors. Following the introduction, based on Anthony Pym’s “humanizing” (agent-based) approach to translation history, I explore the roles played by many Chinese publishers, translators, and editors in the novel’s translation history in the first half of the twentieth century, with the intention to show why, compared to the translation boom of A Farewell to Arms since the second half of the twentieth century, translations of this novel were produced so infrequently from 1929 to 1949. Review of related historical facts indicates that at least two Chinese translations of A Farewell to Arms were published because Hemingway was identified by many Chinese intellectuals, including communists, as an anti-war and anti-fascist “leftist writer”; and even the allegedly pro-communist scholar-official John K. Fairbank was involved in a translation project of Hemingway’s works. This study aims at showing that at least a part of the history of translating Hemingway in China has been determined by strategies and choices that the American translation theorist and historian Lawrence Venuti has identified as the “cultural politics of translation,” in which the translation process is shaped by political agendas and ideologies, not just by translators’ poetic judgment.

KEYWORDS: A Farewell to Arms, translation as cultural politics, translation history, Ernest Hemingway, Hemingway in China