With essays, seminar reading and tutoring conspiring to fill up my life, I’ve decided the time is ripe to take on The Tale Of Genji, Japan’s classic novel, considered by some to be the world’s first novel. In short, its stature is unrivalled, and its really really long.
Before I can read Genji, I need to decide on a translation- should I tackle Seidenstickers, or Tyler’s? Which will I get more out of? Which will I enjoy the most? The idea of picking a translation is an interesting one- with such a long, and ancient book (Genji was written around 1000), should I be striving to pick the one thats the most accurate, or the one thats the most enjoyable? What factors come into play when you choose a “good” translation over a “bad” one? Although my own experience with translation is highly limited, even my Japanese homework has led to surprisingly difficult decisions about how best to render a meaning into English- after quickly discarding literal translation as the route to take, you need to decide how best to capture the spirit of the text, be it a passage, or book. Yet this brings with it its own connotations- using turns of phrase, and a distinct personal style, no two translations will ever be the same.
The art of translation- for it is an art- is one that I think is beyond my capabilities. Anyway, any advice on Genji okutte kudasai.