Against Untranslatability: Rethinking World Literatures

  • Guanglin Wang


The debate over translatability and untranslatability has haunted people’s minds as it is greatly related to the idea of cross-cultural readability, recognition, and articulation. The traditional idea of untranslatability in the West is greatly related to their sense of incommensurability and binary oppositions. The deeply rooted idea of untranslatability becomes a great obstacle to the acceptance of literatures from Third World cultures, such as China or Australia. Both Chinese literature and Australian literature are marginalized from The World Republic of Letters, with Chinese language being deemed inscrutable and difficult to Western readers while Australian literature being marginalized too in mainstream world literature as it is located in the Asia-Pacific region with a rich translation of the Aboriginal cultures. The author uses literary examples taken from Australia and the diasporic Chinese community to illustrate the fact that literatures can be translated and communicated. There are differences in translation, but not incommensurate, and their efforts of translation should be included and inscribed.


Yijing Untranslatability Incommensurability One-many Affinity World literature Diaspora Babel 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guanglin Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.SISUShanghaiChina

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