About the Story of the Stone Manuscript

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The translation manuscript of The Story of the Stone presented here is in the original hand of Professor David Hawkes, and covers chapter 2 to chapter 80 of the story, totalling 2,210 pages. They were acquired by the Research Centre for Translation (RCT), The Chinese University of Hong Kong in September, 1997. In 2013, RCT decided to place the manuscript at the University Library for better conservation. Further, to make it available to scholars, translators and lovers of translation and Chinese literature, RCT worked with CUHK Library to digitize the manuscript and it is now available for public access through the CUHK Chinese Literature Translation Archive, a major project undertaken jointly by RCT, the Department of Translation, and CUHK Library.

Just like any manuscripts, this hand-written material reveals the thoughts and emotions of the translator, and hence records the translator’s journey in tackling the challenges of translation. With all traces of editing easily distinguishable on the manuscript, scholars, students and practitioners of literary translation can study when, how and why certain translation decisions were made, and witness first-hand how the great Chinese classic gradually came alive in another language.

As the most important achievement of Professor Hawkes, The Stone has been a superb example of literary translation, and has set new, higher standards for Chinese literature in translation ever since its publication. It is our hope that through reading the manuscript, many will be inspired by Professor Hawkes’s passion in crafting the canonical masterpiece in English and join in the endeavour to share with the rest of the world some of the best works in Chinese literature.