Tale of Genji (latest translation)

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aesthete8

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Apr 26, 2004, 9:08:45 PM4/26/04
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How does it compare to previous translations?

Easier to read?

More accurate?

More complete?

What are the weaknesses and strengths of the latest translation?

jim_...@hotmail.com

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Apr 26, 2004, 10:14:41 PM4/26/04
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aesthete8 <aest...@hotmail.com> dixit:

Wanting us to write a term paper for you?

Am I correct in guessing you mean "translations into English"?
and that by "latest translation" you mean Royall Tyler's?

If so, why don't you look at:

(a) a talk given by Tyler in which he compares it with other
translations: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/tylerlecture.html
The interview at http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/tylerinterview.html
might also be useful.

(b) some of the reviews, which any SLJer can find using Google.

I like the way Tyler refers to the first translation of the Tale
of Genji into a foreign language as being Yosano Akiko's 1913
translation into modern Japanese.

--
Jim Breen http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/
Computer Science & Software Engineering,
Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia
ジム・ブリーン@モナシュ大学

Sceadu

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Apr 27, 2004, 1:57:08 AM4/27/04
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<jim_...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:c6kfmg$cs11d$1...@ID-204076.news.uni-berlin.de...

> aesthete8 <aest...@hotmail.com> dixit:
> >How does it compare to previous translations?
> >Easier to read?
> >More accurate?
> >More complete?
> >What are the weaknesses and strengths of the latest translation?
>
> Wanting us to write a term paper for you?
>
> Am I correct in guessing you mean "translations into English"?
> and that by "latest translation" you mean Royall Tyler's?
>
> If so, why don't you look at:
>
> (a) a talk given by Tyler in which he compares it with other
> translations: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/tylerlecture.html
> The interview at http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/tylerinterview.html
> might also be useful.
>
> (b) some of the reviews, which any SLJer can find using Google.
>
> I like the way Tyler refers to the first translation of the Tale
> of Genji into a foreign language as being Yosano Akiko's 1913
> translation into modern Japanese.

I should read this next, but somehow I doubt it's as much fun as Musashi.

Sceadu


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Chris Kern

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Apr 27, 2004, 4:29:54 AM4/27/04
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On 26 Apr 2004 18:08:45 -0700, aest...@hotmail.com (aesthete8)
posted the following:

I recommend it highly. I preferred it to Seidenstecker's version.

-Chris

Chris Kern

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Apr 27, 2004, 4:53:49 AM4/27/04
to
On 27 Apr 2004 02:14:41 GMT, jim_...@hotmail.com posted the
following:

>I like the way Tyler refers to the first translation of the Tale
>of Genji into a foreign language as being Yosano Akiko's 1913
>translation into modern Japanese.

I was a little surprised to see him compare Genji to Beowulf in terms
of readability by a modern audience. He's the expert, but it doesn't
seem to me that the language has changed quite as much (and I think a
lot of the problems with Genji's readability are in the style of the
work than the actual grammar). I wonder if he said this just to
simplify the matter for the interview, or whether there's just
something I'm missing.

There's a neat line of dialogue from Genji in the hahakigi chapter --
To no Chujo is telling a story of a woman he saw, and he mentions a
letter, to which Genji says "さて、その文の言葉は?" -- that hardly
needs translation. (the ? is not in the original of course, but the
following と問ひ給へば is fairly comprehensible just from the kanji
even if you don't know anything about the grammar.)

-Chris

Cindy

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Apr 27, 2004, 9:03:25 AM4/27/04
to

I can't tell you what you should look for; however, I can ask you some
questions.

1. By reading the book, do you fully understand the old Japanese
kyuutei system?

2. Can you picture all characters' appearances?

3. Do you understand the reasons why all those women feel the way
described in the book due to the customs, positions, rules, and so on?

Marc Adler

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Apr 27, 2004, 3:03:44 PM4/27/04
to
On 4/26/2004 10:29 PM, Chris Kern wrote:

> I recommend it highly. I preferred it to Seidenstecker's version.

Seidenstecker's translation will never be surpassed.

<*whump* of glove being thrown down>

--
「斯くてゴルゴタといふ處に、即ち髑髏(されかうべ)の地にいたり、苦味を混ぜ
たる葡萄酒を飲ませんとしたるに、嘗めて、飲まんとし給はず。」
太 二七・三三-三四

jim_...@hotmail.com

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Apr 27, 2004, 7:46:52 PM4/27/04
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Marc Adler <mad...@hawaii.edu> dixit:

>On 4/26/2004 10:29 PM, Chris Kern wrote:

>> I recommend it highly. I preferred it to Seidenstecker's version.

>Seidenstecker's translation will never be surpassed.

><*whump* of glove being thrown down>

Can't comment - never read it. I browsed Waley's version (too
flowery) and read parts of the old Suematsu (partial) translation (too
dry). Tyler's is better than either.

Marc Adler

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Apr 27, 2004, 8:07:53 PM4/27/04
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On 4/27/2004 1:46 PM, jim_...@hotmail.com wrote:

> Can't comment - never read it. I browsed Waley's version (too
> flowery) and read parts of the old Suematsu (partial) translation (too
> dry). Tyler's is better than either.

If I ever write a book, I will imitate Seidensticker's understated
style. Reading his translation of Genji before going to Japan made such
a deep impression on me that it affected the way Japanese sounds to me,
even today. It is one of a couple of linguistic prisms through which I
learned the language.

Bart Mathias

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Apr 27, 2004, 8:35:23 PM4/27/04
to
Chris Kern wrote:
> On 27 Apr 2004 02:14:41 GMT, jim_...@hotmail.com posted the
> following:
>
>>I like the way Tyler refers to the first translation of the Tale
>>of Genji into a foreign language as being Yosano Akiko's 1913
>>translation into modern Japanese.
>
>
> I was a little surprised to see him compare Genji to Beowulf in terms
> of readability by a modern audience. ...

I wouldn't have thought Beowulf either, though my copy has sat unopened
for many years. One of these days... I was going to suggest Chaucer,
but it's probably harder than that.

That suggests an interesting experiment for someone with the
wherewithall--time, inclination, money? Give a large number of randomly
chosen Japanese monolinguals an hour to read a too-long selection of
Genji and ditto for a bit of Chikamatsu. See how far into it they get
in the allotted time. Check comprehension with questions.

Meanwhile have a co-researcher do the same sort of thing in an
English-speaking area, like England or the USA or even Canada or
India(?). Have them read Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, one of
Shakespeare's less-read works for speed and comprehension.

It won't provide any really hard scientific results, but it could give a
little credence to claims of the sort Tyler makes.

Bart

Sceadu

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Apr 27, 2004, 10:16:20 PM4/27/04
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"Bart Mathias" <mat...@hawaii.edu> wrote in message
news:f%Cjc.48767$G_.2...@nwrddc02.gnilink.net...

Unless they've studied Old English, Beowulf would be almost entirely
incomprehensible... Are most Japanese able to at least puzzle out Genji?

Ross Klatte

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Apr 27, 2004, 10:44:40 PM4/27/04
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>Subject: Re: Tale of Genji (latest translation)
>From: Bart Mathias mat...@hawaii.edu
>Date: 2004-04-27 20:35 Eastern Daylight Time
>Message-id: <f%Cjc.48767$G_.2...@nwrddc02.gnilink.net>

Wouldn't it be possible to construct a less subjective metric evaluation?
Percentage of words that survive intact.
Percentage of words that survive with altered endings.
Percentage of words that survive with altered roots.
Etc.
For one thing, since all of the works cited (the AS chronicle not being
mentioned) are poetry, the reader's comprehension might depend on
his ability to read poetry. If a Japanese reader, for example, is abler
to read poetry than an English reader, then the whole test would be
invalidated.
For another thing, I believe that all Japanese students have to undergo
a certain amount of reading Chinese-style Japanese. To the best of
my knowledge, no American student is required to do more than
cast an amused glance at Old English. So, the test would have to
find some Japanese students at a comparable level of ignorance.

Nevertheless, I think that people who would compare Beowulf with
Genji are ignoring the events of 1066.

Ross
Vontay, Virginia
http://community.webshots.com/user/ross_klatte
http://www.geocities.com/foundlingfather/

Chris Kern

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Apr 28, 2004, 2:34:17 AM4/28/04
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On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 21:16:20 -0500, "Sceadu"
<aeona...@NOhotmailANNOYINGSPAM.com> posted the following:

>Unless they've studied Old English, Beowulf would be almost entirely
>incomprehensible... Are most Japanese able to at least puzzle out Genji?

It's difficult to make comparisons like this because the style of
Genji is at least as difficult as the language itself. I would say
that no, most Japanese would not be able to puzzle out Genji. Genji
is written in a very vague and allusive style, with numerous poetic
references, a large cast of un-named characters, a culture and "world"
that is alien even to modern Japanese, etc. An example might
illustrate this best, I'll see if I can find a good one later.

-Chris

Chris Kern

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Apr 28, 2004, 10:14:17 AM4/28/04
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On Wed, 28 Apr 2004 15:34:17 +0900, Chris Kern <chris...@yahoo.com>
posted the following:

I found a fairly good one. It's near the beginning of Kiritsubo,
after recounting the bullying Genji's mother suffered at the hands of
the other people in the palace. Genji is 3 years old.

その年の夏、御息所、はかなき心地にわづらひて、
まかでなむとしたまふを、いとまさらに許させたまはず。

It starts off easy enough -- その年の夏 means the same thing as in
modern Japanese ("the summer of that year")

Next is 御息所. This means a woman who has borne a child for the
Emperor. Who is this? The reader must infer that this is Genji's
mother, although she has so far not appeared as the subject of any
sentence and has been given no title or name.

はかなき心地にわづらひて is pretty transparent with a dictionary,
basically "had a small illness".

まかでなむとしたまふを looks scary. "makadenamu" in this case means
"withdraw" or "leave", and the toshitamafu (if I read it right) is
just to suru + honorific. I imagine a の between the "tamafu" and
"wo". So basically a gerund expressing Genji's mother withdrawing.
From where to where? We can tell from the story that she's leaving a
building in the palace the Emperor has given her, but we need outside
context to figure out where she would likely go (to her mother's
house).

So we have "genji's mom withdrawing"をいとまさらに許させたまはず。
Someone is not permitting her to leave. We can guess it must be the
Emperor, although the subject of the sentence has changed in the
middle of it with no indication. (Further indication that this is the
Emperor comes from the double honorific in the verb -- "se" and
"tamau" are both honorific additions.)

So even if you know all the words in a sentence it can sometimes still
be hard to figure out what's going on because of the vague way the
tale is written, and the large number of cultural elements that are
taken for granted.

Tyler translates this as "In the summer of that year His Majesty's
Haven became unwell, but he refused her leave to withdraw." Tyler has
kept fairly close to the original by not replacing "His Majesty's
Haven" with "Kiritsubo", leaving the vague verb "withdraw", and using
"he" instead of "The Emperor".

Yosano Akiko treated this in a different way by making everything much
more explicit:
その年の夏のことである。御息所-皇子女の生母になった更衣はこう呼ばれる
のである-はちょっとした病気になって、実家へさがろうとしたが帝はお許し
にならなかった。

"miyasudokoro" is explained in a parenthetical, the "withdraw" is
explicitly stated as "jikka e sagarou" and "mikado ha" is placed in
there to mark the changed subject. I think that most modern Japanese
would find Yosano Akiko's sentence more comprehensible than the
original.

-Chris

Bart Mathias

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Apr 28, 2004, 8:17:49 PM4/28/04
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Sceadu wrote:
> "Bart Mathias" <mat...@hawaii.edu> wrote ...

>>That suggests an interesting experiment for someone with the
>>wherewithall--time, inclination, money? Give a large number of randomly
>>chosen Japanese monolinguals an hour to read a too-long selection of
>>Genji and ditto for a bit of Chikamatsu. See how far into it they get
>>in the allotted time. Check comprehension with questions.
>>
>>Meanwhile have a co-researcher do the same sort of thing in an

>>English-speaking area, ...


> Unless they've studied Old English, Beowulf would be almost entirely
> incomprehensible... Are most Japanese able to at least puzzle out Genji?

Well, that happens to be one of the things I thought the experiment
might reveal.

I'm pretty sure Japanese high school students must sit through a course
where they are expected to read some 文語. In my day, anyway, one had
to be prepared to answer questions on bungo grammar in college entrance
exams. Those who find it interesting and really learn some of it should
be able to puzzle out Genji. Among a sufficiently "large number of
randomly chosen" people you might find someone who has actually read an
annotated version of the original.

Bart

ueshiba

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Apr 29, 2004, 4:34:14 AM4/29/04
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"Chris Kern" <chris...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:0jdv80tnp553kph3d...@4ax.com...

>
> その年の夏、御息所、はかなき心地にわづらひて、
> まかでなむとしたまふを、いとまさらに許させたまはず。
>
> まかでなむとしたまふを looks scary. "makadenamu" in this case means
> "withdraw" or "leave", and the toshitamafu (if I read it right) is
> just to suru + honorific. I imagine a の between the "tamafu" and
> "wo". So basically a gerund expressing Genji's mother withdrawing.
> .....

> So we have "genji's mom withdrawing"をいとまさらに許させたまはず。
> Someone is not permitting her to leave. We can guess it must be the

若干異論があるかもしれませんが、
「したまふを」の部分については、「を」を上のように格助詞と見るより、
(動詞などの連体形に付く)接続助詞と見た方が良いのかもしれません。
「許させたまはず」の目的語は「いとま(を)」という形で明示されて
いるからです。

                   上 柴 公 二

aesthete8

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Apr 29, 2004, 8:54:02 PM4/29/04
to
Is there a possibility that Murasaki took her favorite poems and then
wrote a narrative connecting them that turned into G. Monogatari?

And that her contemporaries would not have given much weight to things
like plot and characterization because they would have recognized the
G. Monogatari as a tapestry of embedded poems?

Concerning an earlier comment about words which have never changed, I
always say that when translating, you should only hope to find a word
you don't recognize (or is irregular) because how do you know that the
words you do recognize (and are regular) HAD THE EXACT SAME MEANING
AND FEELING BACK THEN THAT THEY HAVE TODAY?

Cindy <cind...@attb.net> wrote in message news:<xSsjc.48583$w96.4411653@attbi_s54>...

ueshiba

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Apr 30, 2004, 1:02:17 AM4/30/04
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"aesthete8" <aest...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:e615dbbc.04042...@posting.google.com...

> Is there a possibility that Murasaki took her favorite poems and then
> wrote a narrative connecting them that turned into G. Monogatari?

Very unlikely.

> And that her contemporaries would not have given much weight to things
> like plot and characterization because they would have recognized the
> G. Monogatari as a tapestry of embedded poems?

No.
See e.g. 更級日記 (if in a bit later days).

Kouji Ueshiba

Chris Kern

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Apr 30, 2004, 3:26:34 AM4/30/04
to
On 29 Apr 2004 17:54:02 -0700, aest...@hotmail.com (aesthete8)
posted the following:

>Is there a possibility that Murasaki took her favorite poems and then


>wrote a narrative connecting them that turned into G. Monogatari?

Highly unlikely. This was done for the earlier Ise Monogatari, but
Genji's plot and characters are too developed, and the poems too
specific and intertwined with the narrative to have been composed
first.

>And that her contemporaries would not have given much weight to things
>like plot and characterization because they would have recognized the
>G. Monogatari as a tapestry of embedded poems?

Have you ever read Genji? And what does this have to do with this
thread anyway?

>Concerning an earlier comment about words which have never changed, I
>always say that when translating, you should only hope to find a word
>you don't recognize (or is irregular) because how do you know that the
>words you do recognize (and are regular) HAD THE EXACT SAME MEANING
>AND FEELING BACK THEN THAT THEY HAVE TODAY?

Because you also study the language and read commentaries -- people
for the past 1000 years have spent their whole careers and
professional lives figuring out stuff like this.

But you are right that you have to be careful, a number of common
words have different meanings -- "okashii", for instance, is used to
mean "funny" or "interesting".

-Chris

Cindy

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Apr 30, 2004, 8:30:17 AM4/30/04
to
aesthete8 wrote:

> Is there a possibility that Murasaki took her favorite poems and then
> wrote a narrative connecting them that turned into G. Monogatari?

You may laugh at me, but I believe Genji is nonfiction. I read a
commentary saying that Utsusemi was the writer (Murasaki Shikibu). She
stayed as a good friend of Genji, but I don't think she was the writer.

> And that her contemporaries would not have given much weight to things
> like plot and characterization because they would have recognized the
> G. Monogatari as a tapestry of embedded poems?

They used poems to correspond or even to discuss matters. That was the
style of the people back then. Also, do you know, back then, all
princesses or unmarried daughters of noble families were hidden by
screen (御簾). Barging into the 御簾 is what all men were dreaming
about. However, once they do it, it means marriage.

> Concerning an earlier comment about words which have never changed, I
> always say that when translating, you should only hope to find a word
> you don't recognize (or is irregular) because how do you know that the
> words you do recognize (and are regular) HAD THE EXACT SAME MEANING
> AND FEELING BACK THEN THAT THEY HAVE TODAY?

First, you need attend a 古典 class; then, they teach you how to
recognize the classical Japanese. It is like learning another language.

Bart Mathias

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Apr 30, 2004, 8:55:12 PM4/30/04
to
Chris Kern wrote:
> On 29 Apr 2004 17:54:02 -0700, aest...@hotmail.com (aesthete8)
> posted the following:
>
> ...


>>Concerning an earlier comment about words which have never changed, I
>>always say that when translating, you should only hope to find a word
>>you don't recognize (or is irregular) because how do you know that the
>>words you do recognize (and are regular) HAD THE EXACT SAME MEANING
>>AND FEELING BACK THEN THAT THEY HAVE TODAY?
>
> Because you also study the language and read commentaries -- people
> for the past 1000 years have spent their whole careers and
> professional lives figuring out stuff like this.
>
> But you are right that you have to be careful, a number of common
> words have different meanings -- "okashii", for instance, is used to
> mean "funny" or "interesting".

For a moment, I thought you were talking about "wokasi (をかし)," but
the "'funny' or 'inrteresting'" doesn't fit. That word is much closer
to "delightful" (I use "delightsome" when I want to make the text sound
old.)

Bart

Chris Kern

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Apr 30, 2004, 9:16:44 PM4/30/04
to
On Sat, 01 May 2004 00:55:12 GMT, Bart Mathias <mat...@hawaii.edu>
posted the following:

>Chris Kern wrote:

>> But you are right that you have to be careful, a number of common
>> words have different meanings -- "okashii", for instance, is used to
>> mean "funny" or "interesting".
>
>For a moment, I thought you were talking about "wokasi (をかし)," but
>the "'funny' or 'inrteresting'" doesn't fit. That word is much closer
>to "delightful" (I use "delightsome" when I want to make the text sound
>old.)

Hmm, in retrospect I'm not quite sure what I'm talking about. Using
"okashii" to mean "funny" is hardly an archaic meaning so that was
nonsense, but the rest of it doesn't really make sense either.

-Chris

gggg...@gmail.com

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Aug 2, 2020, 11:44:55 AM8/2/20
to
"A String of Flowers, Untied... Love Poems from The Tale of Genji" (book review):

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2003/10/12/books/telling-the-tale-of-genji-through-its-forgotten-poetry/

gggg...@gmail.com

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Aug 2, 2020, 12:05:44 PM8/2/20
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- It might be well said of me that here I have merely made up a bunch of other men's flowers, and provided nothing of my own but the string to tie them together.

Montaigne

gggg gggg

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Jul 31, 2022, 2:19:15 PM7/31/22
to
On Friday, April 30, 2004 at 12:26:34 AM UTC-7, Chris Kern wrote:
> On 29 Apr 2004 17:54:02 -0700,
> posted the following:
> >Is there a possibility that Murasaki took her favorite poems and then
> >wrote a narrative connecting them that turned into G. Monogatari?
> Highly unlikely. This was done for the earlier Ise Monogatari, but
> Genji's plot and characters are too developed, and the poems too
> specific and intertwined with the narrative to have been composed
> first.

According to this:

- One remarkable feature of the Genji, and of Murasaki's skill, is its internal consistency, despite a dramatis personae of some four hundred characters. For instance, all characters age in step and all the family and feudal relationships are consistent among all chapters.

(Youtube upload):

"Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) by Murasaki Shikibu (condensed version - Full Audio Book)"

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