Thursday, November 26, 2009

Aozora Bunko Translation Project: The Ken'yūsha Writers

This just in from Burt "JLANDER" Haliscaster:
Mabel is right, this will be a huge project and we need to strategize. But I think it would be a mistake to limit ourselves to criticism. I say we break up into several groups: Mabel can be in charge of criticism, and I'll oversee the translations of the Ken'yūsha writers. Here's the first batch of stories (and one essay) we should translate:

1. Yamada Bimy
ō, Musashino (1887)
2. Ozaki Kōyō, Kenyūsha no enkaku (1901)
3. Iwaya Sazanami, Koganemaru (1891)
4. Hirotsu Ryūrō, Imado shinjū (1896)
5. Izumi Kyōka, Giketsu kyōketsu (1894)
6. Miyazawa Kenji, Yamaotoko no shigatsu (first published in 1924)
7. Hori Tatsuo, Arano (first published in 1977)
8. Oguri F
ūyō, Arakawa nyōbō (1905)
9. Yanagawa Shunyō, Seidōki (1909)

-Burt "JLANDER" Haliscaster

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aozora Bunko Translation Project: The First Thirteen (Works of Criticism)

This just in from Mabel of Dublin:

Hello. Sorry for not writing these past few months. Things have been pretty hectic here in Dublin. Anyway, I saw your recent post about translating everything available on Aozora Bunko. Great idea. But you're going to need a strategy, because there's soooo much there. I say start with works of criticism. I've made a list of the first 13. You and Sally can figure out who gets what. Maybe you can get Boyd to help. I'd be happy to help if you need me (although my Japanese is still not that great.) Here's the list:

1. Futabatei Shimei, "Shōsetsu sōron" (1886)

2. Yamaji Aizan, "Rai Noboru o ronzu" (1893)

3. Kitamura Tōkoku, "Jinsei ni aiwataru to wa nan no ii zo" (1893)

4. Masaoka Shiki, "Utayomi ni atauru sho" (1898)

5. Takayama Chogyū, "Biteki seikatsu o ronzu" (1901)

6. Tsunashima Ryōsen, "Yo ga kenshin no jikken" (1905)

7. Natsume Sōseki, "Izumu no kōka" (1910)

8. Ishikawa Takuboku, "Jidai heisa no genjō" (1910)

9. Uchida Roan, "Nijūgo nenkan no bunjin no shakaiteki chii no shinpo" (1912)

10. Ōsugi Sakae, "Sei no kakujū" (1913)

11. Yosano Akiko, "Bosei henchō o haisu" (1916)

12. Arishima Takeo, "Sengen hitotsu" (1916)

13. Miyazawa Kenji, "Nōmin geijutsuron kōyō" (1926)

Best regards,

Mabel Callahan

"A History of Modern Japanese Literary Criticism," Act One, Scene 2

This just in from Sally Suzuki:


I finished editing the next installment of your play, and sent it to the boys at Neojaponisme. As you know, they have a rule against double-postings, so I can't post it here. What I can do, however, is post the I-speech version of the play, as a sample.

-Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Newsflash: Beholdmyswarthyface Banned from Mixi

"Behold This Swarthy Face"

This just in from Joey Stromberg:


Thought I should let you know you're mentioned in this dude's recent blog post. The dude also translates Walt Whitman's "Behold This Swarthy Face" into Japanese.

Whitman's original (1900):

Behold this swarthy face, these gray eyes,
This beard, the white wool unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands and the silent manner of me without charm;
Yet comes one a Manhattanese and ever at parting kisses me lightly
on the lips with robust love,
And I on the crossing of the street or on the ship's deck give a
kiss in return,
We observe that salute of American comrades land and sea,
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

The dude's translation (2009):

Not half bad. I did, however, take the liberty of replacing his 「無関心」 with 「ノ ンシャラン」, which seems closer to the original "nonchalant." (If you're thinking, "duh," I should remind you of the fallacy of translingual homographic equivalency). I hope the dude doesn't mind.

-Joey Stromberg

P.S. Oh, and this for the blind:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Udpate on The Beholdmyswarthyface Encyclopedia of Modern Japan

This just in from Sally Suzuki:
I've spent the last two nights updating the encyclopedia, so have a look. I've also added a new feature: links to online texts of those writers included in Aozora Bunko. Now our viewers can start getting used to reading the texts in the original. As for our Aozora Bunko English translation project, I'll send you an update next week.
Also, I was hoping our readers could send some suggestions for items to add. David Boyd suggested last night that we add the famous Kokoro ronsō between Komori Yōichi and Nakamura Miharu to our list of major literary ronsō. Thanks for the suggestion, Boyd. If anyone else has something they'd like us to add, please send. Again, here's the table of contents:
  • I. People (Pre- and Early Modern; Meiji/Taishō; Shōwa/Heisei) [arranged chronologically by date of birth]
  • II. Publsihing Companies・Newspapers・Journals and Magazines [arranged chronologically by date of first publication]
  • III. Types of Shōsetsu [arranged alphabetically]
  • IV. Major Literary Ronsō [arranged alphabetically]
  • V. Literary Awards [arranged chronologically by year of first issue]
  • VI. Literary Groups and Terms [arranged alphabetically]

  • VII. Political Groups and Movements [arranged chronologically]
  • VIII. Incidents (Jiken/Jihen) [arranged chronologically]
  • IX. Organizations and Institutions [arranged chronologically]
Oh, and someone was handing out this JASSO newsletter yesterday in front of the embassy. Isn't that you in the first two pictures?
Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director
P.S. And, for the blind:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aozora Bunko English Translation Project

This just in from Sally Suzuki:


I'm currently lobbying several government ministries and private foundations in both the U.S. and Japan for a multi-million dollar grant to translate into English the copyright-expired works available on Aozora Bunko. As you know, Aozora Bunko has several thousand works by over 500 Japanese authors, so I need you to round up 15-20 (at least!) of the best translators/bungaku specialists you can find. This is an enormous project which will likely take several years to complete.

I also need you to write a letter explaining the project's importance—how the vast diffusion of knowledge is now possible through the internet; how the project will increase the world's awareness of Japanese culture, history, and literature; how we hope eventually to post the texts on Project Gutenberg; etc.

We have little time to waste. Get on this immediately. I beseech you.

-Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director

And, for the blind:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A History of Modern Japanese Literary Criticism: Act One, Scene 1

W. David Marx, editor of the popular online journal Neojaponisme, has kindly invited me to post on his site the first scene of my short reference play, A History of Modern Japanese Literary Criticism. The remaining three scenes should be finished by year's end.

And, for the blind:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Urashima, The Unofficial Version

Here is Beholdmyswarthyface's translation of "Urashima, The Unofficial Version," a 20-line tanka sequence by contemporary poet Ishikawa Mina 石川美南 (b. 1980). The poem is loosely based on the story of Urashima Tarō. For Ishikawa's original, click here.

(I, gray with years, close my eyes and open the box. In the box is an ancient sea.)
Rocks crumbling from the bluff, the cape grumbled on and on

Drawing on memory unfurl the neatly folded sea


Catch and release
, midday break lingering in the mouth is salt-breeze

Wielded by an invisible hand an angling rod snags a bale of turtles

Mulling on the soul
foot tramples a shellfish graveyard

(Tuesday. Order in for boxes. Inquiry for four payments.)

Fingering a hole in the conference room we'll leave the emergency light on

I paste in the margins, but can't seem to stick with anyone

Finished with the manual I shoo away the sea anemone behind the copier

Falsetto voices call gaily from afar
Marco . . . Polo . . . here where the sea laps

(Friday. After work, the sea.)

Beckoned, sinking quietly into the seagardenlove's recognition comes too late

Sighs seep from the raft, they say there's a city too at dusky sea's bottom

Into one another we swim and give, roughly 300 years in human time

(A late-night magic show on TV. On the count of three, the boxes are shred to bits, but no trace of anyone inside.)

Words of reproach no longer in stock, the flowerbed that no longer blooms

(Monday. Took the day off to visit a far-away place.)

To each mourner in the procession waves come and go: Sadness. Mirth. Grief. Confusion.

And so young, younger even than me
the faint coffin slides through midday

Falling behind I suck at the shellfish miso soup, shuru-shuru

By foot they come offering me a lovely container
fill it with whatever you like

Determined to outlive them all, my fingers dismantle the dice-caramels

Peeping into the jeweled comb box
the passing years of my age and youth


The sea-mess, no longer contractible, waves beat the edges
of a disheveled mind

Portrait by Sky

This just in from Sky Milner, artist, architect, and founder of the SAO Institute:

Here is a portrait I did of you, Beholdmyswarthyface, in the style of legendary artist Giacometti.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mother as Sally Suzuki

This just in from Mother:
Hi honey. Here is the Halloween picture of me dressed up as Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director. Dad was Reginald Denny again. Nothing big this year, just dressed up and walked to Postinos for dinner.

Be good,

P.S. I'm looking forward to the completion of your Beholdmyswarthyface Encyclopedia of Modern Japan. It's really coming along nicely.