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In a postscript to the English translation of Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem, Ken Liu drew attention to his approach to the translation work. Ken Liu writes that "differences in linguistic structure and cultural references, are actually easy to resolve". In some cases, he used footnotes for this. (The German translation has endnotes for most of the same names and concepts.)

However, Ken Liu also pointed out that (emphasis added)

there are more subtle issues involving literary devices and narrative techniques. The Chinese literary tradition shaped and was shaped by its readers, giving rise to different emphases and preferences in fiction compared to what American readers expect.

He adds that he he "tried to adjust" some of the narrative techniques that American readers (and presumably readers in the West in general) would be more familiar with, but he does not go into any details. This leads me to the question what narrative techniques and literary devices in the Chinese original would justify this type of adaptation.

Note that this is not about primarily about the very obvious change of moving the three chapters set during the Cultural Revolution to the beginning of the book, since this was Liu Cixin's preferred order anyway.

  • Are you looking at the book as a whole or some sections? It'll take a long time to read both books and compare. Or maybe you just want to compare an English paragraph and a Chinese paragraph? I can speak anecdotally that Chinese narratives feel... different from English narratives because of different writing conventions. – Double U Jan 16 at 2:33
  • @DoubleU I am specifically about the novel The Three-Body Problem, not about the other two novels in the Remembrance of Earth's Past series. Since I don't know where the narratives techniques or literary devices were changed, it is impossible for me to select a specific passage; if I choose a random passage, it might be irrelevant to my question. – IkWeetHetOokNiet Jan 16 at 9:39
  • Google Books provides a free preview of the English version. Qidian provides a free preview of the Chinese version. It is copyrighted material, so you have to pay to access more. Just by looking at the 1st and 2nd chapters, I can tell the books are not sentence-level translations. But I am going to read as much as I can, and get back at you. – Double U Jan 17 at 0:26
  • @DoubleU As I pointed out in the last paragraph my question, Ken Liu changed the order of the three chapters set during the Cultural Revolution. (I have both the Chinese edition and the English translation in print.) – IkWeetHetOokNiet Jan 17 at 9:50

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