Translating traditional Chinese opera for the stage: The cult of qing and the english script of the peony pavilion (the young lovers' edition)

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


The Peony Pavilion, a dramatic masterpiece and timeless romance by playwright Tang Xianzu (1550–1616), has by far the most English-language translations of any Kunqu work. The Young Lovers’ Edition, co-produced by Pai Hsien-yung and artists from Mainland China and Taiwan, was translated by Lindy Li Mark, a professor of anthropology and Kunqu musicologist. It was created with the aim of reviving the traditional art of Kunqu opera for modern audiences and has since been performed throughout China and beyond. This chapter will first discuss the translation strategies used in the English script. The intended use of the English transcript, that is, as a supertitle in the theater alongside the Chinese script, is critical in the translation strategy selection. This dynamic correlation underscores the performativity of both the theoretical representation and the translation itself. Next, the representation of the literary topic and philosophy of qing (情, love, feeling, or desire) in the English script are then investigated. The particular fascination with qing, or the so-called “cult of qing” in late Ming literature, as resistance to li (理, reason or principle), leads to complicated implications of the word qing. In this chapter, words and expressions related to the concept of qing and chun, and their English translations, are examined to open up a broader vista and vision of Tang Xianzu’s theatrical world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranscultural Poetics
Subtitle of host publicationChinese Literature in English Translation
EditorsYifeng Sun, Dechao Li
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003368168
ISBN (Print)9781032436227
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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