Novel, Film, and the Art of Translational Storytelling: Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Joint seminar with Komplitt (SOL) and Aesthetic Node (LUX)
This seminar examines the novel and (self-adapted) film, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise) (2000/2002), by the Francophone Chinese writer and filmmaker Dai Sijie, the story of which takes place against the background of the Cultural Revolution. The first part of my analysis will make clear how the film illuminates and dramatizes the special texture, aesthetic, and structure of the novel. I then move on to investigate the linguistic aspects of the various translations between the novel and the film among French, Mandarin Chinese, and Sichuanese dialect. The aesthetic effects of dubbing, in particular, will allow me to investigate new possibilities of reading exophone literature (literature written in non-native languages). Finally, this paper will highlight the centripetal role of oral storytelling in the Chinese tradition in/through various forms of translation, interlingual as well as intermedial. In so doing, the paper will further nuance and enrich current debates on issues such as intercultural misreading and exoticism in Dai's works.
Shuangyi Li is one of the co-organisers of our Komplitt seminars. He worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in French and Comparative Literature at Lund University between 2017-2019. He has recently been awarded a 3-year grant by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) to complete his second monograph, titled Translation, Translingualism, and Transmedia Aesthetics: Franco-Chinese Literature and Visual Arts in a Global Age. He is the author of the book Proust, China and Intertextual Engagement: Translation and Transcultural Dialogue (Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Before coming to Lund, Shuangyi had received his PhD at the University of Edinburgh in the UK and studied at l'Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and L'École Normale Supérieure in Paris.