Translingualism and Autoexotic Translation in Shan Sa's French-Chinese Historical Novels

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


The Franco-Chinese migrant woman writer Shan Sa left Beijing for Paris in 1990 at the age of seventeen. After her settlement in France, French soon became her additional, increasingly dominant language of literary creation. This article examines Shan's three French-language novels that explicitly engage with Chinese historical and transhistorical narratives: Les Quatre Vies du saule (1999), La Cithare nue (2010), and Impératrice (2003). The former two were adaptively (self-)translated into Chinese and diegetically re-organized, truncated, and expanded in their Chinese versions. The latter rewriting of the intriguing legend of Empress Wu during the Tang dynasty showcases the incorporation of Chinese calligraphic aesthetic into the French novelistic fabric in Shan's transcultural writing. Drawing on Steven Kellman's "translingual imagination", this article argues that the translingualism inherent in Shan's (re-)creative process manifests itself as an autoexotic literary aesthetic and a continuous source of fabulation, opening up possibilities of narrative alterity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131
Number of pages17
JournalEssays in French Literature and Culture
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Shan Sa
  • Franco-Chinese literature
  • Literary Translation
  • translingualism
  • autoexoticism


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