The Loss of Cultural Image in Literary Translation-A Case Study of the English Version of The Peony Pavilion

Weifen ZHANG, Yingchun CAO


Cultural image is the unique cultural symbol formed in different ethnic groups due to different cultural traditions and geological environment. Cultural image is widely used in classic Chinese literary, which was a great difficulty in translation. The paper has a case study of The Peony Pavilion, where exists abundant cultural images, among which the use of image “willow” and “plum” were in high frequency. These images were elaborately designed by the author to forward the plots and contained profound connotative meanings. Therefore, the translation of these cultural images is of vital importance. This essay explores the phenomenon of the loss of cultural images in the English version translated by Wang Rongpei and Cyril Birch. There are 55 scenes in the Peony Pavilion, among which the image “plum” and “willow” have been mentioned in 32 scenes. The constant repetition of these two images helps depict vivid characters and promotes the development of plots. Unfortunately, in the translation, the expression of these images is more or less absent.


The loss of cultural image; Translation of dramatic texts; The Peony Pavilion

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