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Translating the Tale of Genji (text of a lecture by the translator, Royall Tyler)
Thread poster: Maria Eugenia Farre

Maria Eugenia Farre  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:51
English to Portuguese
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Feb 29, 2004

http://www.jat.org/jtt/tylergenji.html

Text of a lecture presented by Professor Royall Tyler at the Japanese Studies Centre , Monash University , on 10 October, 2003.


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:51
German to English
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Thank you, Maria Eugenia, for the interesting link Mar 1, 2004

I have read "The Tale of Murasaki" (the author of Genji), which is by Liza Dalby and mentioned in the text. Even though this was only fictional, it was a really fascinating read because of the historical background (11th Century Japan).

"Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden is also to be recommended for those interested in the history and culture of Japan.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:51
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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Rather strange way of translating Mar 2, 2004

According to the textsamples Tyler tried to translate into an outdated version of English. I wonder why. Modern readers would need to translate this translation into their modern language in order to understand what's going on. The normal literary translator tries to use the language of his readers, not the language of his great-grandfather. Or what do you think?

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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:51
German to English
+ ...
Authenticity Mar 3, 2004

In my opinion, if something like "The Tale of Genji" is translated into modern English, it just doesn't sound right.

Tyler was just trying to evoke the mood and culture of the time. People at the Japanese Court back then (11th Century, I believe) used very illustrious phrasing and I think the way someone speaks can tell you a lot about the person and the era in which they live.

For example, I have also heard that there has been a new translation of "Lord of the Rings" to make it accessible to everyone, but I'm not sure I'd like to read it, because the mode of speech is an integral part of the characters, who wouldn't be the same for me if they suddenly adopted some kind of up-beat slang.

However, I can see that it is important to make a book accessible to all, but in order to do so, you might have to make some kind of compromise in its translation.

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

According to the textsamples Tyler tried to translate into an outdated version of English. I wonder why. Modern readers would need to translate this translation into their modern language in order to understand what's going on. The normal literary translator tries to use the language of his readers, not the language of his great-grandfather. Or what do you think?


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Translating the Tale of Genji (text of a lecture by the translator, Royall Tyler)

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