The translator as cartographer
Cognitive maps and world-making in translation
The concept of a cognitive map has been borrowed from psychology by literary scholars to denote the mental representation of the spatial layout of (a) storyworld(s). The classic Chinese novel 紅樓夢 Hongloumeng ‘The Story of the Stone’ (also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber) is particularly well-known for its topographic representation of a storyworld of self-contained totality and detailed veracity. Using David Hawkes’s English translation of the novel and various materials from his notebooks, this article demonstrates the translator’s (mental) cartographic effort to conjure up ‘maps in mind’ in response to the textual spatial cues. I argue that Hawkes’s cognitive maps offer explanations to some translational performances that have been too readily glossed over as insignificant. The article also aims to chart a new path forward for systematic investigation into the significance of the translator’s imaginative participation in ‘the world inside the text’, for the sake of an enriched understanding of translation, both as a product and a process.
Keywords: cognitive maps, translator as cartographer, storyworld, mental worldmaking, cognitive narratology, space in translation, The Story of the Stone
Published online: 10 September 2020
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