Abstract：It is a general consensus that in the history of English literature Milton is second to none but Shakespeare, and Milton's masterpiece is the classic epic Paradise Lost, whose translation is certainly important to Chinese-British literary and cultural exchange. Admittedly, Chinese Miltonists have made significant achievements in translating Paradise Lost, from Fu Donghua and Zhu Weiji in the 1930s, to Zhu Weizhi, Yang Naidong, and Jin Fashen in the 1980s, and then to Liu Jie and Chen Caiyu in the recent decade. Among others, Zhu Weiji's Europeanized translation, although a failure, is a worthy failure for its experimental value to introduce--as Lu Xun formulates--not only new content but also new expressions. On the basis of reexamining the two divergent and fascinating versions of Paradise Lost in the early 1930s and the intense controversies they aroused, this article advances the view that we need to re-translate Milton's classical works, particularly Paradise Lost to meet the demands of the current age. Why?
Five reasons are provided in this paper. First, with flawed understanding and awkward poetic form, the available translations are unsatisfactory and deny repairs and revisions. Milton's language is difficult; to grasp the original accurately the translator must have not just a fine command of early modern English language and literature, but also a deep knowledge of foreign culture and native culture. How to reproduce the essence and flavor of blank verse in the Chinese vernacular still presents a big challenge. Second, our reading of Milton gradually deepens and new interpretations call for new renditions. Paradise Lost is indispensable to our understanding of Western literary thought, and translating Paradise Lost is of paramount importance to comparative literature and comparative culture. Third, as vernacular Chinese constantly renews itself in the process of over a century, the language and style of old translations no longer meet the current need. Literary classics ought to have their Chinese versions updated. Fourth, new editions of Milton have been emerging, especially the Oxford Milton (2008-), and good scholarly editions pave the ground for successful renditions, but the old translations are not based on good editions. Fifth, according to many authorities the re-translation of classics is a regular practice both at home and abroad. This paper concludes with a suggestion on how to re-translate Paradise Lost. We should attempt to avoid the extremes of too much indigenization or foreignization, but rather follow the middle way somewhere in between. The translating and writing practices of Jin Fashen, Bian Zhilin, and Luo Niansheng indicate that the substitution of sound pauses for feet is an effective way of transforming the blank verse into Chinese. Our retrospective and prospective work on the renditions of Milton's grand epic constitutes the very first step towards the re-translation of the poem. A relatively ideal new translation of Paradise Lost is expected to promote the reception and spread of Milton in China, to develop the literary cause in the New Era, and to enhance Chinese-British and Chinese-Western literary and cultural exchange.