John Major on translating the Chinese classic Huainanzi

In a recent guest post on Frog In A Well John Major, one of the translators of the recently published Huainanzi, a classic Han dynasty work on statecraft and philosophy, talks about the process and difficulties of translation.

One of the more unusual aspects of the translation of this work was the highly collaborative team effort the translators took. Here, Major talks about how they approached it:

“we were determined to work as a team rather than simply dividing up and parceling out the work (as the French group had done); we were convinced that approaching the text in a truly collaborative fashion was the key to making the translation as accurate and graceful as possible. The procedure that we adopted was complicated. We began by dividing up responsibility for doing first-draft translations of all of the 21 chapters. Then each draft was read and critiqued by all other members of the team, revised, read and critiqued again, and further revised. The aim was to make the final versions as complete, accurate, and seamless as possible, no matter who did the initial draft.”

A Q&A with Major follows the post in the comments section.

Another interview with Major is at Warp, Weft, and Way.