Translation and World Literature

When discussing the necessity of translating “mss,” David Damrosche argues that it is not very important to deliver the accurate meaning of “mss” since the important message here is the action of getting undressed. Readers are aware that they are reading an ancient Egyptian poem so they will not relate modern cloths with what the speaker in the poem wears. However what are the qualifications to determine what should be accurately translated and what not? Damrosche also claims that “some literary works, indeed, may be so closely dependent on detailed culture-specific knowledge that they can only be meaningful to members of the originating culture or to specialists in that culture; these are works that remain within the sphere of a national literature and never achieve an effective life in world literature” (Damrosche, 420). I believe that every “good” literary work embeds both universality and the uniqueness of its own culture, so how can one determine the life of a literary work in the sphere of world literature by evaluating the percentage of its cultural specificity? For example, many ancient Chinese stories are about love, a universal topic. However, the way to present love conflict behind love must be very different from western romantic stories and are dependent on the knowledge of Chinese culture. Does it mean that because of such difference, they shall only remain important in China? In addition, Damrosche’s argument pre-supposes the existence of world culture different from specific cultures, then what is the world culture?

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