The article examines the use of archaization as a strategy of aesthetic translation in rendering modern Japanese fiction into Chinese. The “classical” style, which resurged at the end of the twentieth century after decades of active championing of the vernacular in China, has been deployed in domesticating major Japanese fictional works originally written in quite different registers. Through close textual analyses of Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s “Portrait of Shunkin (1933),” Kawabata Yasunari’s Snow Country (1935–1947), and Murakami Haruki’s Norwegian Wood (1987), this article shows how the inclusion of elements from the literary language significantly reshapes the source texts for the Chinese audience and how attempts were made to justify these stylistic deviations. In reading these cases against the belles infidèles tradition in seventeenth-century France and contemporary translation theories that favor foreignization, one sees the underlying ideology that led to the preference for “elegant paraphrase” in the late twentieth-century China.

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