The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle cover design
People get hurt and close their minds, but as time passes, they gradually open up, and they grow as they repeat that. This novel is about growth.Haruki Murakami on his new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
I leaned one elbow on the table and considered the clock. Watching the hands of a clock advance is a meaningless way to spend time, but I couldn’t think of anything better to do. Most human activities are predicated on the assumption that life goes on. If you take that premise away, what is there left?Haruki Murakami - Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
1Q84, Brazilian edition
(submitted by heerakmaniac)
My heroes don’t have anything special. They have something to tell other people but they don’t know how, so they talk to themselves.Haruki Murakami
Anonymous asked: Of all of the English translators, who do you think is the best?
I think it’s best if you don’t notice them so much, which I personally rarely do except for a few occasions (it bothered me how often Jay Rubin used the word “utterly” in 1Q84 for example, but I don’t know if that was him or if he just tried to stay true to Murakami). I actually just made a longer post related to the translators on a different platform where someone asked a similar question. I have a feeling you already saw it but I’m just going to share it here again for I’m lazy:
Of course there are certain differences [between the translators], that only makes sense.
Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel both have an academic background and teach Japanese at renowned US universities, Alfred Birnbaum was just a young guy who grew up in Japan and wanted to translate Murakami.
Japanese is practically impossible to translate in a really faithful way because you always have to let some of your own style into it or it will just sound extremely flat and boring in English. Jay Rubin gives a great example of this in his biography on Haruki Murakami in which he brings up something from his other book Making Sense of Japanese. There is a passage from Murakami’s short story The 1963/1982 Girl From Ipanema in it which he gives us three translations for:
“When I think of my high school’s corridors, I think of combination salads: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, asparagus, onion rings, and pink Thousand Island dressing. Not that there was a salad shop at the end of the corridor. No, there was just a door, and beyond the door a drab 25-metre pool.”
(his translation; worked out style, etc, the final product)
“When one says high school corridor, I recall combination salads. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, asparagus, onion rings, and pink Thousand Island dressing. Of course, it is not to say that at the end of the high school corridor there is a salad specialty shop. At the end of the high school corridor, there is a door, and outside the door there is only a 25-metre pool that is not very attractive.”
(a style that seems more familiar to those who have read Japanese books in translation but have no experience whatsoever in translating themselves. He explains that it looks more faithful and literal to us because that’s what things in a text book would look like, and hence also awkward and not something you would want to see in a book that is meant to entertain you)
And finally, he translates the passage literally, word by word, to give you an idea of how impossible it is to translate from the Japanese without making adjustments (English loan-words in italics, Katakana I’m assuming - Murakami is heavily western influenced, hence there are lots of them in his writing):
“High school corridor, say-if, I combination salad think-up. Lettuce and tomato and cucumber and green pepper and asparagus, ring-cut bulb onion, and pink-colour’s Thousand Island dressing. No argument high-school corridor’s hit-end in salad specialty shop exists meaning is-not. High school corridor’s hit-end in, door existing, door’s outside in, too-much flash-do-not 25-metre pool exists only is.”
You see, translations from the Japanese can vary extremely, always depending on the translator and how faithful they want to be to a text.
Murakami’s translators are known for having a very free hand in their work because Haruki Murakami himself doesn’t care too much about how something is translated as long as it does not mess with his stories. He always tells them to do as they please because he knows he can trust them. They work very close with HM and are in email contact with him in case something is somewhat difficult to translate, which happens all the time.
As for my personal opinion on the differences between Murakami’s translators, I can’t really recall anything special to Philip Gabriel right now but I think the differences between Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin are pretty obvious, and logically related to their different backgrounds and also a certain age-gap. I personally don’t really care about the translator. If you don’t notice them, they’re doing a great job, and most of the time you don’t notice them because Murakami is about the things that happen in your mind more than about the (literal) way these things are presented to you.
Do you guys prefer any of the translators? Which one and why?
waytooz asked: Thanks very much for sharing my fan art of South of the Border, West of the Sun :) it's an honor.
You’re welcome! I take it this one was yours then?
Norwegian Wood book cover