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Re(2):Translations of Genji (attn IGGY/MAOU)
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[QUOTE] Buruma (no, not [i]that [/i]kind of buruma!) is always a great read. Iggy is away right now, so you're doomed with my impressions until he returns. Fortunately, we can see from Buruma's text that Iggy is not only the most gothic Londonian we know, he is also the most [i]Heian[/i]: The main thing required of a noble gentleman was a sense of style. Seducing another manís wife could be forgiven; a bad poem, clumsy handwriting, or the wrong perfume could not. "Heian society was on the whole governed by style rather than by any moral principles, and good looks tended to take the place of virtue." anyone unlucky enough to live in the provinces was considered too uncouth to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, because I am an art criminal or not masochistic enough, I have never wrestled with Genji in the original text, let alone in English translation of any era. It's true that Genji presents a great way of thinking about the purpose of writing and translation: should Genji be written in ancient English, but with understandable references? Should it be written in ancient English, but with unknowable references to all but the super-literate, producing a similar experience to reading the original in Japanese? If neither of these, would the author's time be better spent translating a modern Japanese translation (adaptation) of Genji? And if someone's interest were purely scholarly to the point of reading something abstruse, shouldn't they be reading in the original b [/URL][/b][/s][/i][color=660000]-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --[/color][/QUOTE] Here's something that I wonder about: Given the near non-stop wars going on throughout the region we now call Europe in the Middle Ages, the constant changing of regents, and the European invention and adoption of the printing press only near the end of the Middle Ages, I'm kind of surprised that Latin from that era remains readable to modern scholars. It's not as though Latin didn't have significant changes in its spoken and written forms over the centuries. I mean, some of the most powerful and resonant phrases in circulation in English today come from the Bible, and that sure wasn't written in English to begin with! In a funny sort of way, because of the cultural power that it has that is omnipresent in the Western world, I wonder what it's like for scholars raised in the Western world to examine the Bible in its pre-English forms. There is a deep, pre-existing emotional context for the material, but who knows if that is reflective of the one its passages were intended to evoke (aside from maybe the Song of Solomon, which is difficult to imagine NOT being erotic). Still, that's very different from the position of approaching some other ancient work for which there is no emotional/social context that the reader has been steeped in that is derived from that work. Elsewise: It is true that Latin of any form is not a language in common use today, and that for me to understand anything written in Latin, much like anything written in Japanese, it'd have to be translated into another language. English from the 14th century, which is admittedly some 300 years younger than the era from which The Tale of Genji comes from, though, is surprisingly readable to a layman like me. In particular, many words which are to modern English curiously written are quickly guessed at once spoken aloud (even if spoken with a guess as to how to speak it!). It's not a subject I've ever personally studied beyond reading a few of them, either! Shakespeare is younger yet, and has further the benefit of many phrases that remain in common use today. There will still be words that I'm unfamiliar with when reading it, but the gist of Shakespeare is easy to grasp, written for a vulgar audience as it may be.
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