4/24/2011

Akutagawa Ryunosuke KAPPA

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Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (芥川 龍之介, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke)

(March 1, 1892 - July 24, 1927)
1892(明治35)3,1-1927(昭和2)7,24(自殺36歳)

A Japanese writer active in Taisho period Japan. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story", and is noted for his superb style and finely detailed stories that explore the darker side of human nature.
Akutagawa ryuunosukeIn 1914, Akutagawa and his former high school friends revived the literary journal Shinshichō ("New Currents of Thought"), publishing translations of William Butler Yeats and Anatole France along with their own works.

Akutagawa published his first short story Rashōmon the following year in the literary magazine Teikoku Bungaku ("Imperial Literature"), while still a student. The story, based on a fantasy from late Heian period Japan, with a sharp twist of psychological drama, was largely unnoticed by the literary world, except by noted author Natsume Sōseki.

Encouraged by the praise, Akutagawa thereafter considered himself Sōseki's disciple, and began visiting the author for his literary circle meetings every Thursday.
It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo (or pen-name) Gaki, Hungry Ghost.


Read more in the
WIKIPEDIA


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MANDARINS: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
Translated by Charles De Wolf


或阿呆の一生
"The Life of a Fool"
"The Life of a Stupid Man"
Aru Aho no Issho

and many other stories

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十七 蝶 Number 17 : Butterfly

藻の匂の満ちた風の中に蝶が一羽ひらめいてゐた。彼はほんの一瞬間、乾いた彼の唇の上へこの蝶の翅(つばさ)の触れるのを感じた。が、彼の唇の上へいつか捺(なす)つて行つた翅の粉だけは数年後にもまだきらめいてゐた。

"17 . butterfly
"In wind reeking of duckweed, a butterfly flashed. Only for an instant, on his dry lips he felt the touch of the butterfly wings. But years afterward, on his lips, the wings' imprinted dust still glittered."

trans. Will Petersen


"#18. Butterfly.
A butterfly fluttered its wings in a wind thick with the smell of seaweed. His dry lips felt the touch of the butterfly for the briefest instant, yet the wisp of wing dust still shone on his lips years later."

trans. Jay Rubin

"#18. A Butterfly.
A butterfly fluttered in the seaweed-scented breeze. For an instant, he felt its wings touch his parched lips. Even many years later, the powder on those wings that brushed his lips still glistened."

trans. Charles de Wolf
Discussing these translations
Larry Bole, Translating Haiku Fourm



A personal comment from Charles De Wolf

Here are my comments again on what is obviously for me an interesting discussion about translating Akutagawa.

Japanese mo (藻) corresponds in English to 'alga, duckweed,seaweed'. I'm something of a botanical ignoramus, but clearly these aren't interchangeable, by way of either ecological niche or literary "feel" cUnfortunately, Akutagawa doesn't tell us where he has had the experience he describes, so the translator must make a judgment.

The positive or negative meaning of Japanese nioi (匂い) 'smell, odor, stench, scent' depends on context. German Geruch is similar, cf. Dutch rieken, in contrast, of course, to English reek. nioi is a tough word to translate. (More on that below)

Akutagawa clearly loved the water. As a very young man, he wrote a (somewhat fictionalized) encomium to the lower reaches of the Sumidagawa, the Great River (Ookawa). Another story, included in Mandarins, is Umi no Hotori (By the Seaside), which recalls the time he spent with his friend and fellow writer Kume Masao along the eastern shores of Chiba Prefecture when they had just finished
university. 

My guess/feeling/preferred take is that Akutagawa is remembering a vaguer (more wistful - ?) smell – and that it is of seaweed.

We all have our individualized semantic associations. I happen to love the smell of the sea, the saltier and "weedier" the better. Alga, however, reminds me of swimming pools awaiting hard work, and my experience with duckweed is largely limited to a translation of a story from Konjaku Monogatari, in which a dark and ominous freshwater stream is choked with the stuff.

"seaweed-scented" was chosen for its brevity and alliterative effect. Again, we all react to words and phrases in at least slightly different ways. Still, a google-check of "seaweed-scented" (I just did it for the first time myself) might change a few minds.

Donald Richie raises the interesting question of duration in regard to shine vs. glisten, and lbolenyc makes it all the more interesting by citing Petersen's translation.

The Japanese verb is kirameku, which is related to kira-kira, an onomatopoeic word associated with sparkling jewels, for example. If the subject were the stars, we'd obviously say "twinkle." My (subjective) feeling about glitter (now some forty years removed from Petersen's translation, before "lips" and "glitter" became associated with lipstick and rock stars) is that it's a bit less "dignified" than glisten. (My cultural/cosmetic history may be a bit shaky here.)
Furthermore, I think, glisten (again per Donald Richie's point) falls somewhere between shine and glitter.

The French translator of Ahou no Isshou (La Vie d'un Idiot) translates mo as herbes aquatiques, which sounds grimly "ecological" to me and kirameku as brillait ('shone'), as opposed to, say, é tincelait . But to each his/her own! (à chacun son goût!)

Your site is clearly a most worthwhile endeavor!

In the same Akutagawa story, there is a 相聞, one of many he wrote about a woman with whom he was trying to avoid having an affair by writing verses from afar.


風に舞ひたるすげ笠の
何かは道に落ちざらん
わが名はいかで惜しむべき
惜しむは君が名のみとよ。


Hat of sedge dancing in the wind:
How could it fail to drop into the road?
What need I fear for my name?
For your name alone do I fear.
(Tr. Rubin)

The sedge hat dancing in the wind
Will fall in time into the road.
What fear have I for my good name,
When thine alone is dear to me?

(Tr. De Wolf)

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Haiku by Ryunosuke,
compiled by Larry Bole



aki tatsu hi uroba ni gin o uzume-keri

The day autumn began
I had a cavity in my tooth
filled with silver.

trans. Ueda

kogarashi ya mezashi ni nokoru umi-no iro

Wintry gusts:
on the sardine still lingers
the ocean's color.

trans. Ueda


Winter wind--
sardine's still
ocean-colored.

trans. Lucien Stryk


In the storm,
the color of sea
remains in dried fish

trans. Nori Matsuihttp://www.haikuworld.org/dogwood/fulltext/db_4.html

Nori Matsui comments:
"[This haiku] is very famous. Mezashi (small dried fish) usually is hung under the eaves, [in] groups. In a storm of rain and wind in ... autumn, Akutagawa saw the color of the sea from which the fish have come in the dried fish. Many of Akutagawa's haiku are very sensitive [to] season, weather, and his sense of desperation."



shiragiku ya nioi mo aru kage hinata

White chrysanthemums:
in the fragrance, too, there are
light and shade

trans. Ueda


White chrysanthemums--
light/dark,
even their smell.

trans. Stryk


hatsu aki no inago tsukameba yawarakaki

Early fall,
grabbing a locust,
It's soft!

trans. Nori Matsui

Early autumn--
as I grab a grasshopper,
how soft it feels!

trans. Ueda


usagi mo katamimi taruru taisho kana

Rabbit, too
drooping one ear,
very hot

trans. Nori Matsui

Even the rabbit
droops one of her ears--
midsummer heat!

trans. Ueda

And Akutagawa's death poem (given to his aunt prior to his committing suicide, to be delivered to his family doctor, himself a haiku poet, according to both Yoel Hoffman and Makoto Ueda):

mizubana ya hana no saki dake kure nokoru

"Deriding Myself"

My runny nose:
everywhere, except on that spot,
evening dusk falls.

trans. Ueda


"laughing at myself"
One spot alone,
left glowing in the dark:
my snotty nose.

trans. Hoffman


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KAPPA by Akutagawa

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... a book titled The Beautiful and the Grotesque, which is a translation of short stories written by Akutagawa Ryuunosuke. He is probably best-known in the West as the author of the short story "In the Grove," which was made into the movie "Rashoomon."
He was also a pretty good haiku poet.

Akutagawa and Basho,
I found that Akutagawa also wrote two essays about Basho: Bashoo zakki 芭蕉雑記 (Notes on Basho) and Zoku Bashoo zakki 続芭蕉雑記 (Further Notes on Basho). I wonder if these have been translated into English outside of scholarly journals, if even there. I would love to read these two essays!

Makoto Ueda, in his book Modern Japanese Writers and the Nature of Literature, provides a taste of Akutagawa's appreciation of Basho, when he writes:

Akutagawa has also been credited with throwing a new light on Bashoo. Before he published "Miscellaneous Notes on Bashoo," the seventeenth-century haiku poet had been visualized as a lean, travel-worn sage who had no interest in mundane affairs. Akutagawa presented a new image of Bashoo by describing him as a sturdy, energetic man with a great many fleshly interests, including heterosexual and even homosexual ones. Here, for instance, is his condensed version of Bashoo's biography:
"He committed adultery and thereupon eloped from his native province Iga; arrived at Edo, where he frequented brothels and other such places there; and gradually evolved into one of the age's great poets."

source : Larry Bole, April 2012


yo ni furu wa sara ni Basho no shigure kana

falling on the world,
afresh -- Basho's
early winter rain

by Shiro (1742 - 1812)

from James H. Foard
"The Loneliness of Matsuo Basho"



世にふるも更に時雨のやどり哉
yo ni furu mo sara ni shigure no yadori kana

life in this world
just like a temporary shelter
from a winter shower

Soogi 宗祇(そうぎ) Iio Sogi (1421 - 1502)
Tr. Ueda Makoto


世にふるも更に宗祇のやどり哉
yo ni furu mo sara ni Soogi no yadori kana

life in this world
just like a temporary shelter
of Sogi's

Matsuo Basho
Tr. Ueda Makoto

Unison - Honkadori




rokotsu o basato tsutsumu ya kawabaori
. kawabaori 皮羽織 leather haori coat .


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. . . . . . . . . . . KIGO for late summer

Memorial Day for Akutagawa Ryunosuke, July 24
Gaki ki 餓鬼忌, Kappa ki 河童忌, Chookoodoo ki 澄江堂


His Haiku-Name (haigoo 俳号) was Gaki and Chookoodoo (Chokodo Shujin)


光りおり餓鬼忌に偲ぶ蜘蛛の糸
hikari ori Gaki Ki no shinobu kumo no ito

the thread of a spider
sparkles to remind us -
Akutagawa Memorial Day

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

http://homepage1.nifty.com/rmtr/sousaku/haiku.html


The Spider’s Thread
[Akutagawa Ryunosuke]
source : tonygonz.blogspot.com



More about GAKI, the hungry ghosts and haiku


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Kappa, the water goblin

"The fart of a water goblin", kappa no he,
河童の屁, へのかっぱ

This expression in Japanses means something small and insignificant. If the water goblin does it in the water, it is not heared very far and does not smell, and very few of us have ever experienced it in real life ... But the real origin of this expression seems to go further, meaning "koppa no hi 木っ端の火", the flame of a little wood splinter used for igniting a fire, which was rather insignificant in itself. People of Edo used to play with words, so the KOPPA became a KAPPA.

Read the details of the River Imp, Kappa
Mark Schumacher




河童の正体とは何か?- with many photos :
source : tanken.com/kappa.html

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naminori kappa 波乗り河童 Kappa riding the waves
Kappa Daimyojin 河童大明神 Great Deity Kappa




at the temple Kappadera かっぱ寺 Kappa temple 
Sogenji Temple, 曹源寺


quote
The Folklore of Kappa-dera Temple
According to a legend,
at the beginning of the 19th century there lived in the vicinity a raincoat maker named Kappa Kawataro 合羽川太郎(合羽屋喜八 Kappaya Kihachi). In Japanese the word for"raincoat"is also "kappa". This region was once a basin with poor drainage, therefore rain would often bring floods causing undue trouble for the residents. Because of this, Kawataro began the construction of a series of drainage ditches with his own finances.The project was said to have been completed only with the assistance of the kappa living in the Sumida River whom had been helped by Kawataro in the past.
It is said that those who actually witnessed the river kappa thrived in business.

This legend is the origin of the name "Kappa-dera".
Furthermore,the name of "Kappa bashi" (a bridge that once stood at the Kappabashi intersection) is also said to come from this legend.
At the temple they celebrate the Kappa Daimyojin 河童大明神 and there is a stone monument that is said to be Kappa Kawataro's grave.


かっぱのぎーちゃん
source : blog.shinobi.jp


The Kappa riding the waves is now an amulet for good business.

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 



. Kappabashi bridge 合羽橋 in Asakusa .

. . . . .










Kappa Daimyojin 河童大明神 Great Deity Kappa

from Mie prefecture
三重県津市白山町 大観音寺 Temple Dai Kannon-ji

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More about the Kappa and Haiku

a kappa farting -
this too is the
voice of Buddha


... ... ...


. Shinagawa kappa matsuri 品川河童祭
Shinagawa kappa festival

(Water Goblin Festival)
kigo for mid-summer





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Kappa Kokeshi 河童 こけし Wooden Dolls of Kappa




酒樽をかつぐ河童こけし




はっぴに書かれた a pair wearing a happi coat


MORE
source : zenmaitarow

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河童の恋する宿や夏の月
kawataro no koi suru yado ya natsu no tsuki

in a lodging
where the kappa is in love -
summer moon


. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


- quote
The Buson Zenshu has a rubi giving Kawataro for the pronunciation, usual for Kyoto. The editor/s imagine a sort of enchanted atmosphere with maybe a pretty maiden . . . Recalling Bassho's inn with the hagi plants also meaning mature women, I would not be surprised if it also hinted at the inn serving as a rendevous spot/getaway for kawatarou-kuge (a not so complementary term for nobles/kuge, as they, like kappa, were said to be weak in the presence of metal (money and/or weapons? or gold and/or silver -- not sure of these things)).
source : Robin D. Gill, fb, 2013


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. Suitengu 水天宮 Shrine for the Water God .

It features the mask of a Lucky Kappa, a water goblin, called
Fuku-Taroo 河童は、福を呼ぶ.
Sometimes, even a Kappa is some form of Suijinsama.


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Drunk Kappa . . .

Kappa Dolls
Click for more !

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .


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HAIKU
by Ryunosuke

青蛙おのれもペンキぬりたてか
aogaeru onore MO penki nuritate


Green frog,
Is your body also
freshly painted?


Sick and feverish
Glimpse of cherry blossoms
Still shivering.

.. www.toyomasu.com/


*****************************
Reference

Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets 



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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here are my comments again on what is obviously for me an interesting discussion about translating Akutagawa.

Japanese mo (藻) corresponds in English to 'alga, duckweed,seaweed'. I'm something of a botanical ignoramus, but clearly these aren't interchangeable, by way of either ecological niche or literary "feel" cUnfortunately, Akutagawa doesn't tell us where he has had the experience he describes, so the translator must make a judgment.

The positive or negative meaning of Japanese nioi (匂い) 'smell, odor, stench, scent' depends on context. German Geruch is similar, cf. Dutch rieken, in contrast, of course, to English reek. nioi is a tough word to translate. (More on that below)

Akutagawa clearly loved the water. As a very young man, he wrote a (somewhat fictionalized) encomium to the lower reaches of the Sumidagawa, the Great River (Ookawa). Another story, included in Mandarins, is Umi no Hotori (By the Seaside), which recalls the time he spent with his friend and fellow writer Kume Masao along the eastern shores of Chiba Prefecture when they had just finished
university. 

My guess/feeling/preferred take is that Akutagawa is remembering a vaguer (more wistful - ?) smell – and that it is of seaweed.

We all have our individualized semantic associations. I happen to love the smell of the sea, the saltier and "weedier" the better. Alga, however, reminds me of swimming pools awaiting hard work, and my experience with duckweed is largely limited to a translation of a story from Konjaku Monogatari, in which a dark and ominous freshwater stream is choked with the stuff.

"seaweed-scented" was chosen for its brevity and alliterative effect. Again, we all react to words and phrases in at least slightly different ways. Still, a google-check of "seaweed-scented" (I just did it for the first time myself) might change a few minds.

Donald Richie raises the interesting question of duration in regard to shine vs. glisten, and lbolenyc makes it all the more interesting by citing Petersen's translation.

The Japanese verb is kirameku, which is related to kira-kira, an onomatopoeic word associated with sparkling jewels, for example. If the subject were the stars, we'd obviously say "twinkle." My (subjective) feeling about glitter (now some forty years removed from Petersen's translation, before "lips" and "glitter" became associated with lipstick and rock stars) is that it's a bit less "dignified" than glisten. (My cultural/cosmetic history may be a bit shaky here.)
Furthermore, I think, glisten (again per Donald Richie's point) falls somewhere between shine and glitter.

The French translator of Ahou no Isshou (La Vie d'un Idiot) translates mo as herbes aquatiques, which sounds grimly "ecological" to me and kirameku as brillait ('shone'), as opposed to, say, é tincelait . But to each his/her own! (à chacun son goût!)

Your site is clearly a most worthwhile endeavor!

Anonymous said...

The duckweed I know about is a small floating plant which can be found in marshes, ponds, and lakes. It is nearly identical to Azolla fern, which is placed in rice paddies to increase the nitrogen content and grain yield.
Duckweed has no odour that I can recall, so seaweed might be the preferable translation. Seaweed washed up on shore is called 'wrack' in my area.

Another word to use in place of glimmer and glisten might be shimmer. In English, this has a slightly magical image to it.

News said...

Writer Donald Richie dies at 88

Long-term Japan resident, writer and critic Donald Richie, who through dozens of books and articles published from the late 1940s until the last decade helped introduce Japanese film and culture to the world, passed away in Tokyo on Tuesday, according to his long-term editor, Leza Lowitz. He was 88.

. . .After a stint back in the United States, he returned to Japan and began writing regularly for The Japan Times in 1954. Richie wrote hundreds of articles for the newspaper, covering not only film, but his other passions of theater, literature and art.

He continued to write for the newspaper through 2009.

Richie also published many books, including “The Japanese Film: Art and Industry,” which he coauthored with Joseph Anderson in 1959.

Between 1969 and 1972, Richie was in New York, working as a curator of film at the New York Museum of Modern Art.

He is also known for his travel writing. “The Inland Sea,” a memoir of his journey to the Seto Inland Sea that was first published in 1971, is considered a classic of the genre.
.
(Japan Times - Feb 20, 2013 )