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Lu

A difficult sentence (one of many)

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Lu

I'm trying to read Chinese literature reviews and am finding it difficult. Just came across a sentence that I would like to ask everyone's help with.
 
The full paragraph is '心灵相隔、因果倒错的人生故事,体现了作者强烈的怀疑精神和对形而上的兴趣,这类作品致力于小说意蕴的模糊性的开掘,是对小说艺术性的追求。' and the sentence that prompted me to ask for help is '这类作品致力于小说意蕴的模糊性的开掘'. (The full article is here, this part is from the introduction of Xu Zechen.)

 

What I make of it is something like 'This type of work strives to dig for (or is it 'dig up'?) vagueness in the deeper meaning of fiction'. Is that about right, and if so, what does that even mean?

 

I tend to find tons of such sentences in literature reviews and they haven't started to make sense to me yet. Do I need a degree in literature before I should attempt to understand this stuff? (Should I just read different reviews?)

 

Pointers are more than welcome.

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realmayo

If you 开掘 some 模糊性, does 开掘 mean that you're piercing that 模糊性 and thereby unearthing the 意蕴 behind it and it's not ambiguous any more...

... or does it mean that you're displaying and highlighting (but not explaining) that very 模糊性 itself?

 

If it's the latter I guess the meaning is: ... focuses on exposing the ambiguity inherent to 小说意蕴. 

I suspect "小说意蕴" might have a very slightly fixed meaning of some sort?

 

So: in any novel, the writer's 'meaning' will always be ambiguous because he can never 100% transmit it to a reader, the reader can never know 100% what's going on in any writer's head. In this case, the writer in question chooses to highlight this ambiguity inherent to all 小说, rather than pretending it doesn't exist.

 

 

(But your Chinese is way better than mine so I hope you don't mind me taking a stab; hopefully others will be more helpful.  )

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gato

An attempt at a translation. The original has a taint of academese (characterized by the high ratio of nouns to verbs). One cannot really fix that in the translation.

 

心灵相隔、因果倒错的人生故事,体现了作者强烈的怀疑精神和对形而上的兴趣,这类作品致力于小说意蕴的模糊性的开掘,是对小说艺术性的追求。

These stories of lives of alienation and uncertain morality reflect the author's intense skepticism and interest in the spiritual. This type of work endeavors to explore the ambiguity of meaning in novels, in pursuit of novels as an art form.

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eslang
(Should I just read different reviews?)

 

Why not?

Reading different reviews may give us another way of interpretation.

 

邵燕君 view from the article below:

选择这样的题目在作者是自我挑战,小说完成了这样的挑战

徐则臣是最新一届“春天文学奖”得主。

这两篇小说都非常短,但短得结实,骨骼坚实匀称。

作者的处理,《弃婴》举重若轻,《奔马》举轻如重

http://wxs.hi2net.com/home/news_read.asp?NewsID=69025

如果说《弃婴》如油画般鲜亮,《奔马》则如水墨画般素淡。从技术上讲,《奔马》比《弃婴》更难写,因为它处理的不是“生命”这样重大而普遍的命题,而是深藏在儿童心中的一个卑微又难以把握的愿望。

 

这类作品致力于小说意蕴的模糊性的开掘

from http://fanyi.baidu.com

betake; devote oneself to; apply oneself to; turn to; bend oneself to ;

 

开掘

(2) [dig]文艺上指对题材、人物思想、现实生活等深入探索并充分表达出来

主题抓得准,开掘得深

http://www.zdic.net/c/0/fc/265686.htm

 

My two-yen thoughts:

This genre of works specialize in bringing out the meanings of fuzzy character in the novels.

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陳德聰

Yeah I would re-arrange it as 致力於開掘「小說意藴的模糊性」 to clarify what's actually being "excavated", and gato's translation of this particular chunk is very very good! Though technically ambiguity is something different from vagueness, I also wanted to work "obscure" or like obfuscation or something like that.

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Lu

@Gato: yes, that's a good analysis of Chinese academese, too many nouns. I get lost in the 的s sometimes and can't figure out what goes with what. It doesn't help that 'This type of work endeavors to explore the ambiguity of meaning in novels' is not exactly an easy concept either. (Haven't read the story discussed here, but I haven't found exploration of the ambiguity of meaning in the work I did read.) Realmayo's explanation helps.

 

@Chen Decong: I think my problem with this, and similar, sentences that it has some technical difficulty combined with a complicated meaning. Can't help thinking these things would be easier in a language with cases, like German or Latin.

 

Thanks all. I think I get it now. I guess sentences like this just rub me the wrong way for being difficult in too many ways at once, and then I kind of stop trying out of annoyance.

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gato

By the way, you should be able to find some more readable book reviews on douban.com. I particularly like those that have a twist of humor.

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eslang
I get lost in the 的s sometimes and can't figure out what goes with what.

@Lu,  Yeah, me too. 

 

I find that translation from the original language to another foreign language can be quite a "dark art" and some things cannot be translated easily due to gaps of understanding or even cultural differences.  I'd rather write to the author/reviewer/commentator to seek clarification, especially if the translation is going to be published.

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Lu

Eslang: it's not for publication or even translation, I'm just trying to read this stuff. I haven't read a lot of Xu Zechen but what I read I liked too.

 

Gato: it's part of a larger plan of being able to read these things and then use the knowledge found therein to hopefully write something interesting myself. Not all of them are difficult though, and in many of such pieces I learn a lot of really interesting things about authors I read and/or translated and their work. I tried Douban as well, but I mostly found a lot of 'I loved this book' and 'I really relate to these characters' there and not a lot of analysis. It's a great site but not what I'm looking for.

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eslang

Lu, it's great to know you liked Xe Zechen literary works too. :)

 

Slightly off-topic, I'm curious to know if you have come across 刘瑜 literary works?
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%88%98%E7%91%9C

 

Although some douban reviews are "dull or superficial" at best, sometimes it is wonderful to read within the comments :

你根本不需要知道什么是民主

http://book.douban.com/review/2146685/

 

喜欢刘瑜文字的人,在《观念的水位》中仍然可以找到惊喜,
她是幽默的: “所谓民主,就是选一个人上去挨骂。”
她还是犀利的: “别说什么‘关了灯都一样’,21世纪了,为什么总要关着灯呢。”

http://yuedu.163.com/source/0c9bc23b7a4f4b51ba196b89cf1e732e_4

 

If watching youku is not a hassle, hearing it from the horse's mouth is the best.
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDk5MTM0MjI4.html

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