Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ishikawa Jun's "xxx xxxxxx" (1935)

This just in from Swarthyface:
Posted below is the latest draft of my translation of Ishikawa Jun's xxxxx (『xx』, 1935).  The plot can be summarized as follows:
Guy (the story's narrator and protagonist who in many ways resembles the real-life Ishikawa Jun) wanders around a NE suburb of Tokyo in search of the axis mundi, discovers that there is no such thing, forces self to stop dabbling in poetry, begins a disappearing act (by which he sheds, one by one, the various layers of self, starting with emotions, in an effort to reduce self to pure cogito), finds only a void at self's center, attempts suicide, fails, is reduced to pure physicality, ravishes his wife's sister (suggesting the possibility of spiritual redemption through the flesh/barbarization/daraku), confesses that he suffers from a condition known as "nympholepsy," and abruptly cuts narrative off in media res.

To have the text read to you, click on this I-speech button:

And finally, I am indebted to the Beholdmyswarthyface Foundation for the grant that made experimental work on this translation possible. I am also indebted to Professors xxxxxx and xxxxxxxx, both of whom read my translation against the original, and made many helpful suggestions.
(***Removed to prevent plagiarism, Sally Suzuki, 1/25/12)


Sky Procalis said...

Nice. It read well. Funny too.

Caught one typo, you're missing an "e" in here (end of pg 6).

Sally Suzuki said...

Thanks, Sky.
Also, we are looking for someone to edit it, so if feel free to volunteer!

Frederico Gationse said...

On first page, should read "such aimless strolls."

leoboiko said...

Is the lack of a download button intentional?

『Behold My Swarthy Face。』 said...

If you'd like, I can send you the pdf file. I thought I'd wait till it's completely polished before making it download-able.

leoboiko said...

Sounds reasonable. Don’t worry, I can live with the built-in scribd reader; it’s just… uncomfortabler.

leoboiko said...

I feel intimidated to opine anything (I’m just an average undergrad and not even a native speaker), but since you’ve called for editing help, some very humble suggestions from a cursory reading:

The text seems to employ typographical characters (curvy quotes &c.) but ellipses are being rendered as three periods (“...” and not “…”). Curiously, there’s a (misplaced?) ellipsis in the footnote in the last page.

I’ll take the uneven text size I’m seeing to be an artifact of scribd, but the larger line height on page 4 particularly stands out.

“Noh-mask-like” face: Personally I’d use “Noh mask–like”, with an en-dash (iirc Chicago style rolls that way).

“I stood up—as if to extricate myself from the mire—paced around the room,” — stood up and paced?

Quite a bold use of “meh” you have in there :)

“But was I not thinking to myself the whole time, How am I going to peel Yura off me?” —That capitalized “How” happened to fall right on the start of a line; the effect was awkward.

“My psychic is always right about you. I just said my psychic tells me, do you know what I’m thinking?” —is that right, or was it “I just said what my psychic tells me”?

“flopping along the street in your weird outfits, looking away when people greet you on the street.” —the second street feels unnecessary.

“her unlined Yuki kimono gleamed like soft down”. I don’t want to admit it but I don’t know what an Yuki kimono is.

“中国の「竹村の七賢」” I take it the footnotes are still drafts in your natural multilingual thought-pattern :)

“And it is in the shape of this hollow that my divine figure takes her form” —just out of curiosity, is the choice for “her” translating something of the original?

“the land of Abhasvara”: With all the fancy French vowels and so on I was expecting Ābhāsvara.

“this foolish récit”: Earlier in the same paragraph récit was italicized; and again in the following, but not here. (I trust your judgement on which of the many non-English words to italicize; just thought I’d point this one.)

『Behold My Swarthy Face。』 said...


Excellent. Thanks so much for the very helpful comments/corrections/suggestions. Following your suggestions, I have made several changes, and will be posting the new version shortly.

One thing I wasn't sure about:
Are you suggesting that I get rid of “My psychic is always right about you. I just said my psychic tells me, do you know what I’m thinking?” and replace it with the much shorter “I just said what my psychic tells me”?

I'm still not sure how to render this. (If you'd like to see the original, click on where it says 佳人 in the same post.

As for "Yuki kimono," I'm not sure what that is either. Maybe I'll footnote it.

At any rate, many thanks :)

leoboiko said...

Ah, no, I was just suggesting inserting a “what” after “said” (should have underlined it or something). Otherwise I get the impression it refers to the following sentence, not the former line of dialogue:

- I just said my psychic tells me, “do you know what I’m thinking?” [unlikely, I guess, since “you” and “I” are あなた and あたし]
- I just said what my psychic tells me, do you know what I’m thinking?

If the sentence works without a “what” it means my English is defective so nevermind.

If I’m not misreading the original (a very likely possibility), I’d render it somewhat more like this:

- I just said what my psychic tells me. He’s always right about you. And you, do you know what I’m thinking? [echoing the なに考へてるか play from the dialogue opening, and refusing to take him seriously]

leoboiko said...

…too many “you”s in my attempt. well, you got the idea.

『Behold My Swarthy Face。』 said...

yes. your suggestions were very helpful. many thanks. it's still not finished though-- i'll probably spend another month polishing it up.

Sally Suzuki said...

I just made several more changes and re-uploaded it. 1/16, 10:00 pm

Sally Suzuki said...


I just corrected another dozen or so mistakes. I don't know why you insist on uploading it letting me edit it.

1/19, 8:00 pm

Sally Suzuki said...

Just spent another 2 hours with it.
1/20, 12:00pm

Sally Suzuki said...

Just spent another hour with it. And I changed the title to "The Nymphs." Given the ending, I think that is the more appropriate title.

Sally Suzuki said...

Also, keep in mind that I am not a professional editor; I am merely a Japanese-dancer-turned-Beholdmyswarthyface-Media Director (click on the above name for illustration).

So if there are any professional editors out there willing to look at the piece, I (we) would greatly appreciate it.

Sally Suzuki said...

I just spent another hour or so editing it. 1/24/11.

Mother (Vengla) said...

The dates don't match for Sally Suzuki's updates.

Samuel Petra said...

Yura's vulgarity comes across very clearly in the original, but I'm not sure that it comes across in your translation. You might want to vulgar her up a bit.

sally suzuki said...

Just spent another hour with it. 2/3 11:00 am

『Behold My Swarthy Face。』 said...

just spent an hour with it.

Mother said...

At the bottom of page 14, I suggest you replace what is there with the following: "Now back home, lying beside a sleeping Yura, I silently disintegrated and dissolved into air."

Ian Hogarth said...

Suggestion. Page 33, change to: Were it my ambition to salvage this short narrative into a proper novel, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pull it off—even I am capable of adding a little embellishment here and there, and there are certainly many more heartrending anecdotes in the satchel I carry with me.

Mother (Vengla) said...

Is this story sort of like the Japanese version of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf (1927)?

Terie Rorty said...

Too wordy. Clean it up.

Sally Suzuki said...

Terie Rorty,

I'm working on it. These things take time. I just spent another hour with it. Keep checking back.

Mother said...

Change "profligate" to "lecherous scumbag." "Profligate" sounds too Constance Garnett-ish.

『Behold My Swarthy Face。』 said...

Done. Thanks, Mother.

Mother said...

Oh, and one more thing...

Happy Valentine's Day to You! I woke up and read my notes from the Tao Te Ching:

No way to Happiness-Happiness is the way.

You accomplish more by doing less.

See yourself in everyone you encounter.

Trust in others to know what is best for themselves.

Live w/o attachment.

Be generous.

Be strong by bending.

Choose being kind over being right.

Practice radical humility-

live low and the streams will come to you.

We are all one.

Just felt like sharing.

Mother said...

Oh, and there's a split infinitive in the last line. You might want to take care of that.

Sally Suzuki said...

Just spent another hour with it. It still has a long ways to go, though.

nick sunetyli said...

Suggestion: change "rather akin to relief" to "something akin to relief."

Betsy Retstess said...

His attempt/desire to suppress the poetic urge reminded me of Muneyori, the protagonist of Ishikawa's later work "Shion monogatari" (Asters, tr. Donald Keene)

Elliot Heollyte said...

I found another, more modern translation of the Lao Tzu line:

Thirty spokes converge at the hub,
but emptiness completes the wheel.

Clay is shaped to make a pot,
and what's useful is its emptiness.

Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness.

What is
is beneficial, while what is not
also probes useful.

Tao Te Ching: A New Translation
by Sam Hamill

Mother said...

Suggestion: " whom every corner of her mind was transparent, except..."

Marvin Graffi said...

Suggestion: "...but what came to me now in lieu of her..."

Anonymous said...

Suggestion: "On a certain appointed day..."

Mother said...

Not sure what this means: "If you smart with salt, it means you're compatible with the pig."

Pauli Dacti said...

Change to: "sleight of hand"

Mother (Vengla) said...

4/8: Updated again

Mother (Vengla) said...

"evil spirit seeking to take possession of me" . . . inaccurate translation!