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Eileen ChangRomancing Languages, Cultures and Genres$
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Louie Kam

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083794

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083794.001.0001

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Betrayal, Impersonation, and Bilingualism: Eileen Chang's Self-Translation

Betrayal, Impersonation, and Bilingualism: Eileen Chang's Self-Translation

(p.91) 5 Betrayal, Impersonation, and Bilingualism: Eileen Chang's Self-Translation
Eileen Chang
Kam Louie
Hong Kong University Press

Eileen Chang's habit of rewriting and translating her own writings back and forth between English and Chinese presents an occasion to examine the author's bilingual and bicultural journey from the perspective of the performance of the self. This chapter contrasts Chang's self-translation practices in the 1940s in Shanghai with those of a later period after she left China. Whereas Chang's earlier self-translation can be viewed as a form of impersonation for the purpose of producing a defamiliarized perspective on “China” and “Chineseness,” her later practices show the failure of such impersonation as the performance of the self became increasingly determined and damaged by nationalism and Cold War politics. Chang's self-translation demonstrates that her linguistic passages from one language to another were inherently connected to the continuous process of subject-formation in the context of war, migration, intercultural misrepresentations and contexts.

Keywords:   Self-translation, Bilingualism, Impersonation, Nationalism, Cold War

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