Agents of Latin: An archival research on Clement Egerton's English translation of Jin Ping Mei

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Latin has a history of being used in English translations of erotic literary works, but the process of producing and incorporating the Latin into the English target texts has so far remained largely unexplored. Based on the publisher's archival materials, this paper uncovers the roles of and relationships between the English translator, Latin translator, publisher, printer and copyeditor for the use of Latin in Clement Egerton's 1939 English translation The Golden Lotus of the classic Chinese novel Jin Ping Mei. I argue that pre-publication censorship was influenced by sophisticated hierarchical and horizontal networks of agents. The Latin passages in The Golden Lotus, which have always been attributed to Egerton, are revealed by the archives to be the work of an unknown Latin scholar. The use of Latin in The Golden Lotus is both reflective of the social context of the 1930s and representative of the complexity of the agential network in translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-60
Number of pages19
JournalTarget: International Journal of Translation Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Agent
  • Censorship
  • English translation
  • Jin Ping Mei
  • Latin
  • Network
  • The Golden Lotus

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