Thursday, 20 December 2012

Opening Epigram and First Paragraph

I will be looking at the Epigram that Abe starts the novel with and the first short paragraph. It is often said that Abe Kobo was influenced by Kafka and I am wondering if the epigram is lifted from a work of his or a paraphrased version of another author.

From a cursory read of some web-based articles it appears to me  that this author is regarded by several critics as being firmly in the existenstialist/absurdist camp but I will try to make my own mind up about that as I read through the works. He is also often seen as a precursor to and influence on Murakami Haruki - again I will try to throw some light on this as we go along. Both authors are often cited as not typically 'Japanese' (whatever that might mean) in their style/approach and of a more international flavour than other modern Japanese writers. To be honest I don't really know a lot about the background of either writer but I am sure that as we go along, I will be inspired to seek out and read more around the novels and authors in order to give some useful or interesting background detail.

It's early days so I am going to try various formats and see how they pan out. Firstly I will post up some text I am going to look at, a translation, notes on the text and translation and then some discussion filling the gap between the selections since I don't intend on posting a full translation. I am interested in how other translators have tackled the works and what sacrifices or compromises or even improvements they might have made and what implications those changes may have for the art of the translator of literature in general.

As a proviso, please bear with me. I am very much amateur hobbyist and not a professional translator and have no formal degree backgound in Japanese Literature. Therefore I am almost guaranteed to make quite quite a few errors of all kinds. It would be very helpful for the more informed of you out there to share your knowledge and hopefully lead me (in a fun way I hope) to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese literature. That said, let's get to it!

Regarding the epigram at the front of the novel (p.4 of the Shinchosa paperback edition)I have had a cursory look and haven't come up with anything but the epigram rings a bell somewhere. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. It sounds like something that could easily appear in Kafka's The Trial or perhaps Camus. I will keep looking for clues. Meanwhile, the Japanese text (it's a very short paragraph) first:

          - 罰がなければ、逃げるたのしみもない -

第 一章                              1


The Woman in The Dunes - 砂の女 by Abe Kobo 安部公房

First up will be The Woman in the Dunes by Abe Kobo. I will start reading this from January 2013 and as I read through record some thoughts and comments as well as some attempts at translations of selected passages that interest me.

I will be using the widely available Shinchosha paperback edition pictured here as Japanese text - and for reference purposes when I get confused the Penguin Modern Classics edition which I think is the Dale E. Saunders translation but dont quote me on that until I get hold of a copy!