Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Research background
For many years, the exploration of promoting Chinese literature going abroad has never stopped. In 1995, the formally established national project “Library of Chinese Classics (Chinese-English)” was the first major publishing project in history aimed at introducing Chinese classics to the world in an all-round way. However, it is undeniable that this project is progressing very slowly and the translated books with international influence are still rare. One of the important factors that may explain this embarrassing situation is the unsatisfactory translation quality. As a bridge linking two different cultures, translation has a direct influence on the acceptability of the translated books and further on the popularity of the books. In this sense, discussion and evaluation on the appropriateness of translation is essential for better transmission of Chinese culture. Studies on Chinese classics begin late in China though they are of great significance in cultural inheritance and transmission. Sanguo Yanyi, one of the four greatest Chinese classical novels, influences generations of Chinese people with its everlasting charm and vitality. Despite its length and chronologically remote subject matter, it commands a universal audience in China and has become an integral part of Chinese culture. However, just as Zhang (2001) points out, the study of Three Kingdoms has been for a long time far behind the study of The Story of the Stone and even The Water Margin. Hence, more researches are needed to investigate the translation of this classical novel.
1.2 Research objectives
Sanguo Yanyi is the first full-length historical novel which tells the story of Han Dynasty?s fall and the division of its empire into three warring states at the turn of third century. It weaves the plot in a chronological sequence and warps the incidents with the weft of time. While it sticks to an overall time sequence, it grasps the pivotal events in the march of history and describes historical spectacles one after the other in a detailed way. However, as a vital measurement used to describe the occurrence of historical events and military actions, the time-expressions in this classic has long been neglected by linguists and translators. Time-expressions in classical novels are drastically different from that of current use, which may cause great difficulty for the translation of Chinese classics, especially historical novels. However, as it is rarely studied, there is no satisfying standard for the translation of China?s ancient time-expressions. To solve this problem, the author of this thesis attempts to conduct a quantitative and qualitative research on the translation of ancient Chinese calendrical and time-keeping expressions in Sanguo Yanyi. Two full-length English versions compiled by Taylor and Roberts are provided as material source for the later sample