Novel, film and the art of translational storytelling: Dai sijie's balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise

Shuangyi Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This article examines the novel and film Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse chinoise, by the Franco-Chinese writer and filmmaker Dai Sijie, the story of which takes place against the background of the Cultural Revolution. The first part of my analysis will make clear how the film illuminates and dramatizes the special texture, aesthetic and structure of the novel, highlighting the cinematic sensibility of Dai's literary aesthetic. I then move on to investigate the linguistic aspects of the various translations between the novel and the film in French, Mandarin Chinese and Sichuanese. The aesthetic effects of dubbing, in particular, will allow me to investigate new possibilities of reading exophone literature. Finally, this paper highlights the central role of oral storytelling in the Chinese tradition in/through various forms of translation: Interlingual as well as intermedial. In so doing, this article aims to add nuance to and enrich current debates on issues such as intercultural misreading and exoticism in Dai's works.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-379
Number of pages21
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press for the Court of the University of St.Andrews. The University of St.Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No. SC013532.


  • Audio-visual translation
  • Dai sijie
  • Exophone literature
  • Franco-Chinese literature and film
  • Storytelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel, film and the art of translational storytelling: Dai sijie's balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this