Tuesday, October 28, 2008

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


Here are the remaining problem areas.
ところで、江戸狂歌の歴史の上で、天明狂歌とは、前代の未得卜養らの狂歌あるひは上方の貞柳行風らの狂歌の、自然の発展と見るべきだらうか。

In considering the history of Edo kyōka we are confronted with the problem of whether to regard Tenmei kyōka as a natural development of the Kamigata style of Teiryū Yukikaze and his coterie, or of Mitoku Bokuyō and others of the previous generation.

Is Teiryū Yukikaze another name for Nagata Teiryū 永田貞柳 (1654-1734), aka Yuensai 油煙斉, the “early Edo kyōka poet [who was] born into an Osaka confectioner’s household, [and who] in 1729 [published] Kyōka Iezuto (Mad Poems as Gifts for Home),” and who is known for a sense humor that “specialized in the juxtaposition of the elegant with the vulgar”(PCCJL, 207)? And what about this Mitoku Bokuyō? Is this another name for Nakarai Bokuyō 半井卜養 (1607-1678), that “Early Edo kyōka, haikai poet, physician [who …] played a part in the redefinition of haikai, having 171 stanzas included in Matsue Shigeyori’s collection, Enoko shū [… and who…] also acquired a name for himself in prose. [… and whose…] haikai collection, Yakko Haikai (Haikai in Slave Language, 1667) preceded his kyōka collection, Bokuyō Kyoukashū 卜養狂歌集, which apparently came out within a few years of his death” (Princeton Companion, 208)? Or are these two people, Mitoku and Bokuyō? Again, why didn’t Professor Chiba include footnotes in his 『日本近代文学評論選』!?

Next, we have this sentence:
文政以後狂歌と狂歌師との相場ががつたり下落したことの佣を作つたものだらう。

Perhaps it was this that sent the kyōka market into a sudden crash after the Bunka era.

What’s this business about 「佣を作つた」? I think 佣 itself is a kind of ancient figurine or doll, but I’m not sure how it relates to the sentence.

And in the following sentence there is the problematic phrase, 放昿自在の世界:
作者みづから狂歌の必ずかくあるべきことを規定し、狂名の中におのれの貧弱な全存在を露出するや、たちまち放昿自在の世界は消え失せて、あとにはただ安っぽい人間と劣等な品物だけが居残ることになったとは、天明狂歌の微妙な性質につき消息の一端をつたへている。

It bespeaks the exquisite temperament of Tenmei kyōka that when these authors, having defined the parameters of their art, finally emerged from their aliases to reveal their naked selves, their freely illuminating world suddenly disappeared, leaving in its trace only sordid people and second-rate goods.

This next sentence has a rather abstruse line from A Treatise of Ten Rules embedded in it, which I’m not sure how to translate:
今狂詩の源流を探つて、十訓抄、閉口後来客、含陰先達儒あたりを引合に出すに及ぶまい。

It makes little sense at this point to start quoting from A Treatise of Ten Rules (“Visitors show up after hours, Pioneer of the shadows, Confucius . . . ”) in an effort to trace kyōshi to its source.

In the sentence that follows there is a reference to the “Ominaeshi,” which is either a kind of plant of the title of a Noh play (again, Professor Chiba, not known for his footnotes).
もし詩意の狂風に似るものを求めるとすれば、たとへば倭漢朗詠集、上巻秋、源順の女郎花のごときをもかぞへることができるかも知れない。

If your goal is to seek the essence of this “poetic madness,” you could probably also count among your findings the autumn poems from volume one of the Ikanrōeishū or the Noh play Ominaeshi.

Next, here’s a poem in the Chinese style called “On Parting with Courtesan Kasen of the Gomeirō Brothel,”by Ōta Nanpo. Having only the vaguest idea of what it means, I’ve turned it into mush:
五明楼贈雛妓
花扇連襟夜入床
五明送客大門傍
楽遊雛妓如相問
一片執心在玉
At night he is led by her sleeve into the bedroom
And the next morning she sees him as far as the entrance gate.
Answer, if one of the young courtesans-in-training asks how the night went:
“One-hearted as a lukewarm love letter.”

I should point out that Ōta Nanpo’s poem alludes to the following Tang dynasty poem by Wang Changling (698-795), called “At Hibiscus Inn (Parting with Hsin Chien),” which has thankfully already been translated by Witter Bynner in his Three Hundred Poems of the Tang Dynasty.
芙蓉楼送辛漸、
寒雨連江夜入呉、
平明送客楚山孤、
洛陽親友如相問、
一片氷心在玉壺

With this cold night-rain hiding the river, you have come into Wu.
In the level dawn, all alone, you will be starting for the mountain of Ch’u.
Answer, if they ask of me at Lo-yang:
“One-hearted as ice in a crystal vase.”

Next, will someone please tell me who this Hanka Sanjin 半可山人 character is, and also what his Myō 妙 is— is it the title of a work, or a particularly quality that his works possess? I think he’s the author/compiler of the Hanka Sanjin Shishō 半可山人詩鈔, a collection of comic poems written in Chinese, but I’m not even sure about this. Also, did he even write a version of Chūshingura: The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers, as Ishikawa implies? Here are the two problematic sentences:
狂詩作者でその技巧のあるひは蜀山を凌ぐものは少くないだらう。たとへば半可山人の妙はこれを称する。なるほど半可山人の忠臣蔵十一段は斯道の眉目ではあらう。

Indeed, there are many kyōshi poets who excel Nanpo in craftsmanship. Hanka Sanjin’s Myō, for example, has received acclaim from the world. And doubtless it is true that the eleventh chapter of his Chūshingura: The Storehouse of Loyal Retainers displays certain features of Confucianism.

And finally, quoting Santō Kyōden quoting Tang-dynasty poet Cui Guofu, Ishikawa mentions these lines from the fifth book of the Selection of Tang Poems (poem 119). Unfortunately, no English translation exists, and I have therefore turned this poem too into mush.
長信宮中草
年年愁処生
時侵球履跡
不使玉階行

The grass within Ever-Faithful Palace
Each year the places of sorrow
Trespassing on the footprints of bejeweled boots
Not letting [him] ascend the jeweled stairs.

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

石川淳の『江戸人の発想法について』、翻訳日記


まだ独語にしか訳されていない『江戸人の発想法について』(1943) の英訳の完成がいよいよ近づいてきた。エッセー自体はそれほど長くないものの、実は計りたくないぐらい長時間かかった。後からだから言えることだが、最初から研究社発行の分厚い和英辞典を使わなかったのはいかにも愚かなことで、深く反省している。それぬきでは文学的な翻訳はまじで不可能だと痛感した。

ただ、まだ完全に出来上がっていないのは、どうしてもうまく訳せない一文があるからだ。この悪文は、ま、本当に悪文であるのかどうか外人である僕には判断できないけれども、とにかくこれは間違いなく訳しにくい文書だ。

たとべば、天明狂歌に於ける蜀山の位置は元禄の俳諧に於ける芭蕉のそれに当たり、また万歳狂歌集の撰者たるかれの位置は古今集の選者たる貫之のそれに当たるべきだが、しかも蜀山という存在はみづから現象化するといふ仕方によって芭蕉貫之といふ存在を俳諧化しているやうなものである


と原文にある。そしてこれを、

Nanpo's position within Tenmei kyōka, for instance, corresponds to Bashō’s vis-a-vis Genroku haikai, and his position as compiler of Wild Poems of Ten Thousand Generations corresponds to Tsurayuki’s as compiler of the Kokinshū; furthermore, it seems that by willing itself into being, Nanpo’s very existence was to become the haikai-ed form of the combined existences of both Bashō and Tsurayuki. 


と英語にしたけれども、何だかそれでも物足りない気がする。どうせ前後の文脈が分からない以上なにも出来ることがないだろうが、誰かこの文書の改善策を思いついたら、ぜひ教えてもらえるとありがたい。完成できたらさっそく翻訳全体を投稿するので。(あるいは別のところで発表する。)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Notes on Tsubouchi Shoyo's "The Essence of the Novel" (Part 6)


Conclusion (To be continued . . .)

For my next article I intend to expand upon the ideas developed here, and to address the question of how much of the history of post-Meiji Japanese literature can be seen as a response (either hostile or welcoming) to the ideas articulated in Shōyō’s Shōsetsu shinzui. Whereas writers as diverse as Tayama Katai and Mori Ōgai aligned themselves, for the most part, with the ideas of European realism, others, such as Ozaki Kōyō (1873-1939), Izumi Kyōka (1873-1939), and perhaps even Ishikawa Jun (1899-1987) sought their roots in earlier, “pre-realism” traditions of Japanese literature. In the next article, I will consider those writers whose works can be seen as a sort of reaction against Victorian notions of realism.

[Click here to return to Part 1.]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Notes on Tsubouchi Shoyo's "The Essence of the Novel" (Part 5)

The Pragmatics of Realism

Shōyō holds that there are "natural laws" that govern the novel; but there are, he claims, a set of "intuitive" laws:
It is certainly not my intention to expatiate the true rules, which are intuitive. I ask all you scholars, therefore, not to pounce arbitrarily upon the word "rules" and chide me for my ignorance! The points I make in the following chapters are for the most part my own personal opinions; it may be that many of them are wrong. (50)

On the subject of style, Shōyō likens the novelist to a cook who, with an endless variety of ingredients and possible combinations at his disposal, is concerned only with the final result. Any number of procedures, Shōyō points out, might yield satisfactory results (49). These ingredients are the "three styles of Japan," namely, wabun 和文 (Heian classical), kōgo 口語(colloquial), and wakonkonkōbun 和漢混交文 ("a mixture of the two") (51). The end result is only satisfactory when the styles are appropriately combined in accordance with their subject. He likens this process to mixing water (kōgo) with wine (wabun) (68). The style, he goes on, should be appropriate to affect, and, since the shades of human emotion are infinite, the number of styles at the writer's disposable are also infinite. Therefore, writers should strive to be as stylistically versatile as possible.

Humor, he notes, is attained by using the elegant wabun to describe something inelegant. "Skilful writing adapts the style to the content," he writes, "whether simple or complex, robust or gentle, richly beautiful or unsophisticated" (43). Shikitei Samba (1776-1822), he notes, employed the humorous technique to great success. But as a rule of thumb, the writer should employ a brusque prose for rougher subjects, and a refined style for more delicate ones (57). Dialogue, too, should be appropriate to character, and the mixed style should be used for narrative passages, so that it may lend a literariness to the work (58). Of the two genres yomihon and kusazōshi, the former utilizes this mixed-classical-and-colloquial style to a greater degree of success (60). By contrast, the kusazōshi, which were originally intended to serve as "amusements for women and children," employ too much of the colloquial, making it more vulgar than the yomihon (69). Finally, colloquial-dominated prose should be reserved only for contemporary subjects (72). And the two dangers, he warns, are in sounding either too classical or too colloquial. He recommends a hybrid style such as that successfully employed by Bakin in his Hakkenden and Bishōnenroku, which uses the classical language for over 60 percent of the narrative passages, and for half of the dialogue. Yet, though Bakin is exemplary, Shōyō warns not to imitate him. If you want to write like Bakin, Shōyō advises, "go back to Bakin's starting point" and "savour great works like Genji monogatari and Heike monogatari and Taiheiki, and then strike out on a new path of their own" (68).

[click here for Part 6]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Notes on Tsubouchi Shoyo's "The Essence of the Novel" (Part 4)


To Hell With the Audience, I'm an Artist!

That Shōyō held the audience in low regard is apparent in his berating of Edo writers for their pandering to popular tastes. It was these writers, he felt, who had lowered fiction to the degraded genre of the kusazōshi. Shōyō is also critical of the Japanese theatrical tradition, which he faults for never having held "realism" in high regard, and for its fantastic portrayals and exaggerated, audience-pleasing theatrics. "Instead of trying to reproduce something exactly as it was," Shōyō wrote, "it [Japanese theater] tried to be larger than life" (19). Echoing Chikamatsu, he concedes that a perfect realism would be both insipid and impractical; yet despite these reservations, he calls for a realism that serves as a mirror to man, society and the age (19-20). To Tsubouchi Shōyō, sinning too far in the direction of realism is preferable to straying in the direction of the "unrealism" of the Japanese arts of the past, with their "superficial, exaggerated personalities" (21). Though some disregard for audiences and their vulgar tastes can be found in pre-modern texts, it is my guess that such total neglect of the reader-writer relationship as seen here is an attitude Shōyō picked up from the English Romantics.

Though the presence of stern, Confucian censors were also to blame for the overt moralizing so ubiquitous in Edo literature, it is likely that audiences, too, took pleasure in seeing the virtuous characters rewarded in the end, and that the overt didacticism was, to some degree, a response to audience demand. "The novels popular in Japan since the early part of this century," Shōyō explains, "have been on the whole just this kind of didactic novel and not real novels." Like Kant, Shōyō believes that "true novels" are aesthetic rather than didactic in nature, and that our appreciation of them is not contingent upon any personal interest in their function or existence. The true novel is purposeless, disinterested, and meant only "to give pleasure and ennoble the character." It should not serve as a handbook on how to behave or think. But just how sincere Shōyō was in his advocacy of art-for-art's-sake seems debatable in light of his comments on what is and is not appropriate subject matter for the novel, and in light of a later suggestion that the novel should, in fact, be a "guidebook to life," and not a "plaything" for "women and children, who are fundamentally ignorant and poorly educated" (I, 5).

Just why realism of the Victorian variety is most appropriate for a non-didactic fiction, Shōyō does not explain. It seems to me perfectly plausible that non-realist or non-mimetic traditions can be just as "aestheticist" or non-didactic as the kind of realism that Shōyō advocates. Non-realism and l'art pour l'art are not mutually exclusive, but nowhere does Shōyō acknowledge this.

Shōyō goes on to distinguish art's "aim" from its incidental effects. The "noble thoughts" that art may engender are not the function of art, but rather "a natural side-effect." Here Shōyō makes the distinction, again in Kantian terms, between the primary aim of the novel (aesthetic) and its indirect benefits (didactic). The novel should aspire to be a "perfect, beautifully executed work of art . . . [that] profoundly inspires a reader." "Indirectly," he continues, "it ennobles his character and rounds his education" (33). The direct benefit is "the pleasure the reader feels. In other words, the novel is meant to entertain people" (33). Shōyō uses "entertain" in a rather limited sense, as we will see in the next section where he elaborates on just what qualifies as suitable entertainment. The indirect benefits are possible because the novel teaches us to control our passions; but such "moral instruction," he laments, is unfortunately lost on women and children (35). The final and perhaps most important indirect benefit of fiction is that it provides the "inner truths" that "fill the gaps" in the "official histories" -- again an idea first expressed in Genji monogatari and, later, in Motoori Norinaga's Tama no ogushi.

The new novel, therefore, should not be concerned with the fickle tastes of "ignorant women and children," but should follow its own rules of objectivity, sincerity, and verisimilitude. Shōyō urges writers to include more realistic descriptions of nature for its own sake, even if such descriptions are not directly related to the plot. Such a technique had never been part of the Japanese tradition and must have struck Shōyō's readers as something terribly odd; but, to the young Shōyō entranced by the Victorian English novel, it was is exactly these objective descriptions of nature that served as the hallmarks of the "true novel." Shōyō even suggested that writers should mimic passages found in the novels of Sir Walter Scott in order to hone their descriptive skills (21-2).

[click here for Part 5]

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nixon In China, by John Adams: Act II Scene 2b - I'm the Wife of Mao Zedong

Been stuck in my head for weeks, and I was hoping to get it stuck in your heads, too.

Discover John Adams!

The Drama Nuisance- Aristotle-- Poetics (esp Ch 1-10)

This just in from Jarvis32:
According to Aristotle, the poet is superior to the historian because he is at once concerned with the universal and general, the probable and possible, and the particular and facts, while the historian is concerned only with historical fact and particulars. The history of poetry, he claims, begins with the lyric, develops into epic (diegetic-mimetic mixed narrative), and reaches its final and most perfect form in tragedy (dramatic or mimetic voice).

Mimesis, in contrast to diegesis, is "the original impulse of imitation," and comes naturally to us. Poetry, Aristotle asserts, comes from this natural impulse to mimicry and improvisation. Aristotle then divides poetry into two categories, calling the imitation of things noble "tragedy," and the imitation of the vulgar "comedy" (Ch 6). For both types of mimesis, there are three components: the means (e.g., words, paint, or sound), the object (e.g., people’s actions, nature’s sounds, a landscape), and the manner (e.g., fictional modes, voice, authorial presence or absence, use of dramatic scene, etc.).

Aristotle does not define his concept of catharsis as clearly as he defines mimesis, and, historically, catharsis has be taken to mean any of the following: purgation, purification (compare to the Japanese notion of nagusame), or clarification (i.e., that of pity and fear within the play). The first two are phenomena that take place in the audience, while the third is an element built into the work itself.

In chapters 7,8, and 23, Aristotle discusses the notion of unity, which, together with mimesis, form the central thesis of his argument.

In his essay "Orientation of Critical Theories," M.H. Abrams discusses what he considers to be the six modes of representation. The first three are Aristotelian; the last three Platonic. First, there is Naturalism, which is the literal, scientific representation of natural objects and social life. Then there is Classicism, which is the "generalized representation of nature or the human passions.” Third, there is Pre-modern criticism, which is the representation of classicism, subjectively viewed. Fourth is the representation of ideal forms in nature and in the mind, an example being German Romanticism. Fifth is the "representation of transcendental ideal forms," such as found in Neoplatonic Idealism. And finally, there is the representation of art’s own world -- of the“Heterocosm," as he calls it. An example of this last mode of representation is found in the art-for-art's-sake movement, which began in Europe under the influence of Kantian aestheticism.

Finally, there is Aristotle's famous ranking of the elements of tragedy. Of first importance is plot. Characters and characterization ranks second. What he calls "thought" -- i.e., rhetoric, reasoning, speeches -- places third, while the diction of the speeches ranks fourth. Fifth goes to song composition, and, finally, the costumes and stage setting rank as least important.

It is interesting to compare Aristotle's ranking of the elements with that of Zeami, who held the most important aspect of the No drama to be the poetry itself, and that No theater's ultimate aspiration is to become waka, with which it shares a similar purpose -- namely, to be a pure transmitter of feeling.