TOKYO — “Translation is a unique and independent work,” said Yukio Kakuchi, who spent decades translating the works of Japanese literary scholar Donald Keene (1922-2019).
The 74-year-old expanded his specialization in a 90-minute class as part of a translation career exploration course at Toyo University in Tokyo in November 2022. He teaches Japanese literature, culture, history and people in Japanese. In front of about 150 online and offline attendees, he shared his views on why translating and writing is so difficult and so rewarding at the same time.
Gakuji revealed that he had known Keane for more than ten years, and was suddenly asked by a scholar, “Would you mind translating my work?” Since then, Kakuchi no longer enjoys leisurely homecooked meals at Keane’s table, instead sitting at a writing desk piled with her books.
“I’ve never studied so much in my life,” says Gakuji, his first job translating Keane’s work on modern Japanese literary history, which encompasses everything from I-novels and wartime works to criticism and plays. said while remembering “I tried reading Kabuki playwright (Kawatake) Mokuami’s script aloud.
In translating one of Keane’s masterpieces, The Emperor of Japan: The Meiji Era and His World, 1852-1912, Kakuchi provided all the sources cited in the original work, namely in Japanese, English and French. About 450 points were examined.
Kakuchi knew that Keen was sensitive to words and chose them carefully from a wide range of possibilities. was impressed by Keane’s translation of Another translator, Edward Seidensticker, translated this same sentence as “The earth lay white under the night sky,” but Kakuchi notes that Keen is Kawabata’s Japanese word for “night” (夜). and “there” (below).
Just as many Western readers rely solely on translations to understand Japanese literature, in Japan most people read only Kakuchi’s translations to understand Keane’s views. Chi said he was determined to make a translation that matched the quality of Keane’s work.
Realizing that the success of a translation depends on the quality of the text, Geddi devoted himself to repeating the cycle of writing, reading, and writing again. Keane always checked all drafts Kakuchi wrote before publication, but did not want to disturb the flow, rhythm, or “breath” of Kakuchi’s writing, which had a life of its own. I didn’t make any direct changes. Keen apparently offered hints instead of corrections, causing Kakuji to rewrite the draft himself. It was like an endless quest to find the right words to express the ideas in my head.
Kakuchi now sees translation as a violent “fight” with himself, being able to find in his own words that he understands what is in the original. If the words he comes up with don’t exactly match what he read from the original, he says he will continue this ‘fight’ to push his thoughts forward. We write because we want to know where is ultimately going to get there.” I learned from
In his lectures, Mr. Geji emphasized that he sees his occupation as “writing anew the same work based on Keen’s excellent materials,” and repeated this explanation over and over to ensure that all students It was a take-home message to remember. It was the moment when I was finally able to understand it in the Japanese words of Mr.
After Guo Zhi’s lecture, Toyo University student Zhou Qiujiang said, “I was surprised that Keen, who is famous for his writing and translation, did not write (a certain work) in Japanese and had Guo Zhi translate it.” A friend of mine, Chinatsu Kawamoto, said, “Hearing Mr. Gakuji’s lecture, I felt it was important to know the author in order to guess what he felt when he wrote a specific passage.” rice field.
Kakuchi told this reporter that Keane would sometimes talk about the past in Japanese, copying phrases exactly as they were written in Kakuchi’s translation. Having spent a lot of time with Keane, Gedi must have been able to understand Keane’s thinking and find the right words. This must be why Keane liked his translation as if it were his own.
Authors and translators seem to have a special chemistry, both in person and on the page. This is reflected in a passage from Into Japanese Literature, a Japanese transcription of Keane’s interview first published in 1979. Keane said: Before they write it out in their own words, they are able to reproduce the meaning and nuances of my original writing with little difference.In some cases, the translation is even better than the original.
(Mainichi Shimbun reporter Chinami Takeichi)