Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Translation Diary: Ishikawa Jun's 『江戸人の発想法について』


In my last post, I said I was almost finished with my translation of Ishikawa Jun’s 『江戸人の発想法について』. Not true. Fact is, I’m bogged down. This thing is taking forever. Here are some of the reasons. (By the way, thanks to Matt of No-sword for helping me in the last post.)

First, the title. “On the Ways of Thinking of the People of Edo” has too many of’s. Not sure what to do about this. Also, there seems to be no decent English approximation for 発想法.

Next, my translation of these three sentences is still a bit awkward:
げんに、お竹説話に於て、われわれはそこに二重の操作しか見ない。一面は江口こそ歴史上の実在で、お竹こそ生活上の象徴であるやうな転換の仕掛に係る。また一面は眼をひらけばお竹、眼をとぢれば大日如来といふやうな変相の仕掛に係る。

In the case of the Otake legend, this “secularizing” device is really only twofold. On the one hand it is devised to convert the historical reality of Eguchi into the real-life symbol of Otake. On the other hand it is a transformation tableau that gives us Otake, when eyes are opened, and the Dainichi Buddha, when eyes are closed.

Next, this whole paragraph is giving me trouble (and what is 右体の次第 !?):
そして、この仮定が忽然と生活上に立てられた時、それは歴史上の現実たる江口説話に依ってとうの昔に証明剤といつたあんばいで、とたんに梃でもうごかない。さつそく筆まめな学者先生がお竹の実話を随筆に書いたり、欲ばりの香具師がお竹の遺物を小屋掛で見せたりする。江戸に於ける俗化といふ言葉は右体の次第から離れたところではたちまち意味を失ふだらう。またやつしといふ思想はおなじ言葉のやつしといふ操作と不可分であるところにはじめて活機を得るだらう。

Now when this hypothesis is suddenly applied to life, it holds firm, having been substantiated long ago by the narrative of the historical Eguchi. The diligent scholar will at once scrawl down “the true story of Otake” in his zuihitsu essay, while the acquisitive mountebank will put Otake’s artifacts on display in some interim shed; but insofar as it relates to Edo, the term “secularization” loses its meaning the moment it is removed from the order of circumstances I have described above. Likewise, the notion of yatsushi for the first time gains its vitality the moment it becomes inseparable from the operation of the same name.

And this honkadori-type waka by Yamate no Shirohito, included in Wild Poems of Ten Thousand Generations (1783). Not sure if I’m getting this right:

柏餅

なら坂やこの手にもちし柏もちうらおもてよりさすりてぞくふ。

“Oak-leave Rice Cakes”

On Narazaka slope: Kashiwagi rice cake in hand I devour it, stroking it front and back.

Also, not sure if I’ve rendered this next sentence correctly, particularly the phrase 家集撰集 (does it really mean “Minamoto no Sanetomo’s personal anthology”?):
本歌取とは、すなはち古歌の俳諧化である。そして、この操作は天明以前にもあつた。また狂歌は家集撰集を出すことも既にそれ以前に行はれていた。

In a word, what we call an “allusive variation” poem is precisely the haikai-ization of an old poem, and this technique had been in use long before the Tenmei era. In fact, it can even be seen in some of the kyōka poems from Minamoto no Sanetomo’s personal anthologies of the Kamakura era.

This is enough for now. There are still several obscure Chinese poems that are troubling me.

2 comments:

PW said...

I sort of like the of of of. phil

Ryan said...

At least someone out there likes the of of of. You'd be amazed at how many are against it. ryan