Translating sexuality in the context of Anglo-American censorship: The case of Jin Ping Mei

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This article presents a descriptive study of the English translations of the classic Chinese novel Jin Ping Mei in the context of the Anglo-American literary censorship of obscenity in the twentieth century. By scrutinizing the strategies employed in the English translations of Jin Ping Mei, this article uncovers the dynamic interactions between literary translation activities and the evolving socio-historical contexts in the target culture. The resurrection of the archaic source text, particularly its erotic component, in the Anglophone world in the twentieth century was based on the (re)discovery of its value in the contemporary target context. In the case of Jin Ping Mei, equivalence at the linguistic and textual levels was simply not a concern of the translators and publishers, who had to decide how they would deal with the social reality of literary censorship, by submissively conforming to its demands, or by creatively confronting them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-433
Number of pages18
JournalTranslation and Interpreting Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2021


  • Jin Ping Mei
  • Literary censorship
  • Obscene publications
  • Paratext
  • Sexuality
  • Translation strategy

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