June 29, 2007

"Shadow of the Moon" revisions


TP is the TokyoPop translation. EW is my translation.

Chapter 38

1.  TP: "Don't let it bother you, Yoko," he said gently. "Not your fault, eh?"
      "It's not . . . I'm okay."

      EW: "I seem to have touched upon a sore spot. Not because you think it was your fault, I hope."
      "It doesn't mean I'm all depressed about it," Youko said, scraping the ashes out of the stove.

In the first sentence, TokyoPop's version is more accurate. LIT: "Don't lose heart [be depressed], Youko. It's not your fault." However, Youko replies using the same verb in the negative. So I lean toward my version in her reply.

2.  TP: "Eh? Don't know what a shoku is? Guess you don't have 'em where you're from."
      "Well, we do use the same character you use for shoku in the Japanese words for solar and lunar eclipse." Yoko wrote the two words out with her hand on the table, first nisshoku, or solar eclipse: 日蝕
      Then gesshoku, or lunar eclipse: 月蝕
      "That so?" replied Rakushun raising a bushy eyebrow. "Well, I suppose you might call it an eclipse, though it don't do nothing to the sun or the moon.

      EW: "Ah, so you don't know what a shoku is, either. You don't have shoku where you're from?"
      "Well, it's written the same as an eclipse of the sun or the moon. We have those."
      "They're not dissimilar omens in some respects, except that the sun or moon don't disappear.

      LIT: "They're similar kinds of things. But the sun or the moon don't wane.

My version is pretty exact, except for "disappear"; "appear to wane" is more accurate. Youko doesn't write anything in this scene. Ono uses the standard words for solar eclipse and lunar eclipse (though 食 is generally preferred to 蝕).

3.  TP: Why, they say that over in Hairou an entire lake boiled into the thin air. Not a trace of it left – an entire lake!"

      EW: In one part of Hairou, the ground beneath a lake rose up and all the water flooded out. The whole lake vanished off the map."

      LIT: In Hairou, the bottom of a lake called Youchi [Lake Youchi] rose up and overflowed. There is not a trace of the lake left.

The original definitely says "the bottom of the lake welled up and [the water] overflowed." Yoshie Omura confirms the name of the lake. I don't know why I missed that. I've changed this sentence to: "In Hairou, the bottom of Lake Youchi rose up and all the water flooded out."

4.  TP: "Over There . . . and Here?" Yoko said quizzically, sipping at her hot tea.

      EW: "Here and there . . . . "

I think "here and there" sounds better in English than "(over) there and here." Eijirou also translates the expression "here and there" even though it is technically "(over) there and here."

What follows this line is a description of the tea Youko is drinking, but not a dialogue tag: "The tea he made [LIT: the tea provided by the house] looked like green tea. The aroma was quite different. It resembled a herbal tea, with a quite soothing flavor."

5.  TP: "But if you went far enough, wouldn't you come back to where you started? Or . . . . you mean the world is flat?"
      Rakushun clambered up into his chair and gave Yoko a hard stare. "Of course the world's flat. Why, if it wasn't, we'd all roll off!"
      The rat looked almost panicky. Yoko laughed. "Sorry, I just don't know much about this world, I guess."

      EW: "So that means the earth really is flat."
      Climbing onto his chair, Rakushun gave Youko a startled look. "But of course it is. It'd all be quite incomprehensible otherwise." There was surprise and laughter in his voice.
      "Well, then, what shape does this world have?"

The first line should be: "So that means the earth over here is flat." The addition is not in the original. The relevant verb in Rakushun's reply is komaru, "to be worried, to be in a bind, to be in a fix."

      LIT: "We'd all be in a difficult place, wouldn't we?" He laughed/smiled a little in a surprised sort of voice.

The TokyoPop version is a tad overinterpreted, but I think the gist is right. I would say: "We'd all be in a difficult fix, now, wouldn't we?"

The attribution of the last line of dialogue could be debated. In Japanese narrative fiction, each line of dialogue is in a paragraph by itself (I find this maddeningly confusing at times):

      Paragraph 1. Climbing onto his chair, Rakushun gave Youko a startled look [LIT: blank look on face].
      Paragraph 2. "But of course it is. Otherwise we'd all be in difficult fix, now, wouldn't we?"
      Paragraph 3. LIT: In a surprised sort of voice, laughed/smiled a bit.

I read the implied subject of sentence 3 to be Rakushun. The next line by Youko actually begins with ellipses ( . . . ), which suggests to me that Youko is mulling over her reply.

6.  TP: In one hand, her furry companion picked up a walnut lying on the table and set it before them. "Here, in the middle the world, is Mt. Soohsan."
      "Soohsan?"
      "Aye, written grand and mountain, like this:
      That's it's official name, anyhow. We just call it the Great Mountain, most of the time, though some people call it the Center Peak. Now on all four sides of that are other peaks: Houzan, the Mountain of Sage's Brush to the East; Kazan, the Mountain of Flowers to the west; Kak'san, the Mountain of the Soaring Cry to the south; and Kouzan, the Mountain of Eternities to the north--five mountains in all."

      EW: Rakushun picked up a walnut and placed it on the table. "In the middle of the world is Suusan."
      "Suusan?"
      "The Supreme Mountain. It's also called Suukou, the Pinnacle, or Chuuzan, the Middle Mountain. Surrounding Suusan at the four cardinal points of the compass are the Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Mountains. They are more commonly known as Houzan, the Mountain of Wormwood; Kazan, the Mountain of Splendor; Kakuzan, the Mountain of Immediacy; and Kouzan, the Mountain of Permanence. The story goes that the Eastern Mountain was formerly called Taishan. The ruler of the northern kingdom of Tai changed the spelling of his family name from the character meaning "generations" to the character meaning "peaceful calm," the same as Taishan. In deference to him, Taishan was changed to Houzan. Together they are called Gozan, the Five Mountains."

Again, no need to mess with the Hepburn romanization. In the text, the names of the mountains are simply listed with their pronunciations. My readings of the characters are based on the literal meanings of the kanji and also on the original Chinese meanings. In other words, my best guesses. The parenthetical about Tai is in the original text.

7.  TP: Yoko nodded trying to remember all the unfamiliar names.
      "Now around those five mountains is the Kokai, the Yellow sea:
      It's called a sea, but mind you it's no normal sea – not the kind with water. No, it's a barren wasteland of rock, desert, swamp, and thorny tangle."
      Yoko watched as Rakushun drew the characters with his finger.
      "Have you been there?"
      "Course not. The Kokai's surrounded on each side by the four Diamond Mountains. Inside their borders is no place for mortal folk."
      "I see," Yoko said not really understanding. The map that Rakushun was plotting out in walnuts on the table looked like some ancient chart of the world, before proper maps were made, based more on myth and legend than actual scientific cartography.

      EW: "No kidding."
      "Encompassing these five mountains is the Yellow Sea. Though called a sea, it is not a body of water. Rather, it is said to be filled with craggy wastelands and deserts and swamps and an ocean of trees."
      Youko paid close attention to the characters he was writing. "You've never seen it?"
      "There's no way I could. Encircling the Yellow Sea are the four Kongou, the Adamantine Mountains. No mortal being can dwell within them."
      "Oh." It really did look to her like an old map of some ancient world.

Youko says, "Huh . . . . " I thought "adamantine" was a cooler word than "diamond." EDICT suggests both meanings for kongou, and gives as the second meaning: "Buddhist symbol of the indestructible truth." [Typo: I originally spelled it "kongon."]

8.  TP: "The four inland seas are arranged around the Diamond Mountains, and the eight inner kingdoms, of which Kou is one, encircle them. Around that, we have the Void Sea. In the Void Sea, close to land, are four large islands, each one also a kingdom. So, these four, plus the eight around the Diamond Mountains, make twelve kingdoms in all."

      EW: "The Adamantine Mountains are bordered by four seas. To the north, northeast, south, southwest, east, southeast, west, and northwest, eight countries encircle the seas. Beyond them is the Kyokai. Adjacent to these eight countries are four big islands. The four islands plus the eight countries that surround the Yellow Sea are the Twelve Kingdoms."

I added the compass points. The original is: "the seas are encircled by eight countries in the eight directions." However, "eight directions" can also be translated "all directions." The original reads: "Fairly close to the continent are are four big islands." In any case, I should replace "countries" with "kingdoms."

"Void Sea" sounds pretty prosaic to me. I define Kyokai as "Sea of Nothingness" early on and then continue using Kyokai.

9.  TP: "The tales call it the land of Hourai . . . though I've heard some people call it Japan."
      As he spoke, Rakushun wrote the characters for Hourai:
      Then for Japan:
      Wait a second, thought Yoko, that's the ancient word for Japan . . . how was it pronounced? Wa?
      "Don't you mean Japan?" Yoko asked, writing the modern characters for Japan:
      "Nope," Rakushun replied, pointing again to the single Wa he had written.
      Yoko bit her lip. Was this her unseen translator working again?
      "They say that kaikyaku come from Wa," Rakushun said, looking up at Yoko.
      Yoko's eyes opened wide. This time she had clearly heard him say "Wa." Maybe the translator had decided that she knew the word now, so there was no need to convert it to "Japan" anymore. This was getting more and more mysterious.

      EW: "Tales have been told of an island far away at the eastern edge of the world, fairy tales about a place called the Kingdom of Hourai. Also known as Japan."
      The character he wrote down was Wa, the ancient name for Yamato.
      "Really? The same 'Yamato' as Japan?"
      When she wrote out the character herself, it definitely was Yamato. Youko bit her lip. Was it because of how the language was translated?
      "It's also said that Yamato is where kaikyaku come from."
      This time she clearly heard "Yamato." Because she knew the word as well in her native language, she didn't need it translated for her.

The text does not say he wrote the kanji for Hourai. He says "Hourai" but then writes "Wa." Then Youko says, literally, "Wa? Japan?" This is confusing to translate into English because the Chinese wa is pronounced Yamato in Japan. As Youko notes in the next sentence, she's familiar with the original Chinese character for wa and so can read it directly without translation. Only the pronunciation is different.

Here I begin taking some editorial liberties of my own. Japan is variously referred to as Hourai and Yamato (the former more than the latter), and occasionally as "Japan" (Nippon). But without the accompanying kanji to rely on, I decided to use Yamato instead of Hourai to cut down on the confusion.

This is somewhat unfortunate, as Hourai is a clever, geographical pun. It refers to one of three legendary mountains in Chinese folklore, and is also the ancient name for Taiwan.

10.  TP: After all, she was the one who had come here through the moon's reflection on the sea. It hardly seemed the sort of trip one could reproduce with a ship, a sail, and a pair of oars.
      "Now on the other side," continued Rakushun, "somewhere off in the Diamond Mountains, there's a peak called Konron. Around there is another kingdom of legend: China. That's where the sankyaku come from."
      As he said the word China, Rakushun wrote the ancient word for China: Kan.
      "Sankyaku? You mean mountain guests?" Yoko said, drawing the characters on the table with her finger:

      EW: The only way home was through the shadow of the moon.
      "There's also a legend that says that deep within the Adamantine Mountains is a place called Kunlun. Beyond Kunlun is China. China is the home of the zankyaku, the visitors (kyaku) from across the mountains (san or zan)." Rakushun wrote down the character for Han to represent China.
      "Zankyaku? You mean there are other people who get tangled up in this place, not just kaikyaku?"

As I explain in the introduction, kage means "reflection," but "shadow" is more poetic, and is generally how the title is rendered. In cases where there is a commonly-accepted geographical name for a place such as Kunlun, I'll use that rather than the Japanese transliteration. I stand corrected on sankyaku. Yoshie Omura confirms this pronunciation. I'll make that change globally.

11.  TP: Yoko nodded. She had heard much the same from Takkee.
      Rakushun glanced around the room then, and leaned in toward Yoko, whispering in conspiratorial tone. "They say that in Kan and Wa . . . . "

      EW: "Huh."
      "The people of Yamato and Han, it's said . . . .

For the reasons stated above, I prefer the reading of Han, which derives from the Han Dynasty. The second sentence in my translation is quite clumsy. It should begin: "It's said that the people of Yamato and Han . . . . "

The TokyoPop additions are not in the original. This is a solid block of dialogue.

12.  TP: Rakushun looked at Yoko eagerly, obviously hoping for some kind of confirmation.
      Yoko shook her head and laughed. How preposterous! She thought. If she told the people back home such a story of wonders, they would think it some kind of fairy tale. So, she thought, they have fairy tales in this world, too.
      An uneasy smile formed on Yoko's lips. She had spent all the time since her arrival wondering at the strangeness of this new world; but now she had a glimpse of how things looked from the other side, and she began to wonder which was truly more uncanny: the world, or herself?
      And as soon as the thought crossed her mind, she knew the answer. That was why the kaikyaku were hunted. That was why someone, or something, wanted her dead.

      EW: Rakushun looked at Youko expectantly. Youko shook her head with a rueful smile. What a strange conversation this was. If she ever returned to her old world, they would never believe her. Fairly tales, they would say. And here, her world was a fairy tale as well. She laughed to herself. All along she had believed that this was a strange and mysterious world. But in the end, wasn't she and the place she came from even more so?
      That must be why, she concluded at length, kaikyaku were hunted down like dogs.

"Smile" is used twice in these paragraphs, first as "bitter smile" and secondly as "faint smile," which I translated as "laughed to herself." I think "Youko shook her head with a rueful smile" is the more accurate version. However, "So, she thought, they have fairy tales in this world, too" is more accurate than: "And here, her world was a fairy tale as well."

      LIT: As she answered, she understood. The thought finally came to her that this was why kaikyaku were pursued.

My version of the last sentence is a tad more truncated than the TokyoPop version. I believe the the antecedent of "As she answered" is "She shook her head."

The online and offline browser versions have been updated. More corrections here.

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June 27, 2007

Blood and Chocolate


So what do you do when one of your favorite books is turned into an awful movie? Well, with the LA Times noting that "there isn't enough absinthe in all of Romania to obliterate the taste of this clunker," and a NetFlix reviewer warning that "if you saw the movie hoping for a live version of the book, you will be sadly disappointed," you set your expectations accordingly.

In the trailer, Blood and Chocolate is touted as coming from the "same people who produced Underworld." At first that would seem a fine recommendation, but it also means it was produced by the same people who made Underworld: Evolution. So, yes, these are people fully capable of turning good ideas into crap.

All the more surprising because Blood and Chocolate is not a long or terribly complicated piece of narrative fiction. As my brother puts it, it's as if somebody told somebody else about the plot, who outlined it for the screenwriters, who then had too much to drink and woke up in Bucharest the next morning with a bad hangover trying to remember what it was about.

About halfway through the movie I still clung to the hope that the one remaining thread from the original bolt of cloth (the relationship between Vivian and Aiden) might actually be woven into something vaguely resembling the fabric from the original story. That was when the director decided that the movie she really wanted to make was Die Hard.

In Romania. With wolves. I'm not even going to try to figure that one out.

Even if the film hadn't turned into a train wreck, it was doomed from the start from being crammed into the crumbling mold of hackneyed, goth Euro-noir sameyness. (Does every rave/dance club scene in these movies take place on exactly the same set with exactly the same extras and exactly the same club band? Sure seems like it to me.)

The genre has been heading this direction for a long time. Every Dracula film you've ever seen--including the ones with titles like Braum Stoker's Dracula--are goth Euro-noir corruptions of the original manuscript. It's a problem that parallels somewhat the "Shakespeare syndrome": namely, Shakespeare didn't sound like Shakespeare to Shakespeare's audiences.

Now, I'm as much a fan of "historically faithful" productions as the next dilettante. I consider Branagh's Saint Crispin speech in Henry V one of the greatest masterpieces of English rhetoric. But I think it takes more contemporary reworkings like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet or Ian McKellen's Richard III to capture the raw, original impact the plays.

Stoker wasn't trying to be gothic in Dracula. He was trying to be a post-modern. Writing today, he would best be compared to Michael Crichton. Dracula is chock full of bleeding edge science and technology: blood transfusions and telegrams that whiz around like email. You probably didn't know that the book includes an American cowboy armed with the latest Remington repeating rifles.

The only director who's gotten close to the spirit and pacing of the book Stoker wrote is Joss Whedon. Seriously. Buffy is the Dracula that Stoker intended all along.

The awful rendering of Blood and Chocolate is an additional indictment of the extent to which goth Euro-noir has taken over the theatrical horror genre, to the detriment of classic American noir. Which is odd, seeing that some of Hollywood's most successful television exports, from Twilight Zone to Miami Vice to X-Files, Buffy, Angel, and the CSI franchise, are American noir.

Noir originally arose out of economic expediency, shooting on black and white film with minimal lighting and sets. It reached its apotheosis as an art form with the Orson Wells classic, Touch of Evil. It wasn't really fully embraced again until Michael Mann brought Miami Vice to television, this time with cinematic style rather than economy as the motivation.

Goth Euro-noir arose out of the fall of the Berlin wall, after which producers realized that they could shoot in Eastern Europe for pennies on the dollar, getting a lot of bang for the production buck. Armed with a bunch of sepia and day-for-night filters, Romania and the Czech Republic and elsewhere become the universal stand-ins for the eternally gothic versions of wherever-you-want.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Except that Blood and Chocolate is a book written by an American that takes place in the modern American suburbs. As with Buffy, that's the whole point!

Simply put, Euro-noir is gothic, American noir is post-modern. Except for a few locations such as New York (Fox's New Amsterdam seems to be attempting a kind of crossover goth/American noir style), nothing in the U.S. is old enough to be authentically gothic. So American noir is all about the mood of the modern.

The Las Vegas of CSI itself is only a century old, and every building on the Strip gets torn down and rebuilt every twenty years or so. The ultra-new contrasted against the ancient night. The glowing Los Angeles cityscape in Angel. The perpetual sunsets in CSI: Miami. And in Buffy, Old Testament gods resurrecting themselves in the suburbs.

The short-lived Wolf Lake almost got it right (it got the wolves exactly right), but was sunk by an absurdly over-budget Hollywood cast. It should have learned from Buffy and stuck with Graham Greene and a bunch of up-and-comers. Wolf Lake suffered as well from the constrictions of "American hick horror," goth Euro-noir's diametrical opposite.

According to the typical American hick horror plot, take the wrong exit off the interstate and you'll find yourself at the mercy of some psycho sheriff and his slack-jawed cousins. Again, nothing wrong with that. Near Dark is a fine example of the genre.

But again, it misses the point when it comes to books like Blood and Chocolate and series like Buffy. These aren't stories about someplace else. These aren't stories about "I hope I never end up there" or "I wonder if it's in the travel guide." It's about right here. It's about the people next door. About finding the balance between light and dark, good and evil, so everything can get back to normal.

Of course it can't. But that's what the protagonists hope for. That's what gets them up in the morning. So they don't have to ride out of town in the last scene.

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June 24, 2007

Chapter 5 (The Shore in Twilight)


六官[りっかん] The Rikkan (also: Rokukan or Rokkan; "Rikkan" is preferred by the Daijisen), or Six Ministries: Administration, Education, Protocol, Defense, Justice, Public Works (治・教・礼・兵・刑・事). Also known as the Ministries of Heaven, Earth, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter (天官・地官・春官・夏官・秋官・冬官).

Koukan (浩瀚) was the Marquis of Baku Province until Youko (deceived by the then Chousai) exiles him in chapter 7 of A Thousand Leagues of Wind. In chapter 81, after sacking her cabinet, she appoints him Chousai (冢宰), or Minister-in-Chief of the Rikkan.

The "Yellow Sea" is not actually a sea, but the island at the center of the world where Houzan (蓬山) is located. Rakushun explains its significance in chapter 38 of Shadow of the Moon.

飄風 [ひょうふう] Hyoufuu (whirlwind or rain squall), meaning a monarch chosen from the first group of pilgrims traveling to Houzan. Ono derives it from a saying attributed to Lao Tzu: 「飄風は朝を終えず驟雨は日を終えず」Translated literally: "A rain squall doesn't last the morning, a sudden shower doesn't last the day." Meaning that unexpected occurances won't last long. Koukan later quotes the first half of the saying.

胎果 [たいか] taika, lit. "fruit of the womb," a person whose "parents" are from the Twelve Kingdoms but is born in China or Japan.
泰果 [たいか] Taika, Taiki's ranka.
積翠台 [せきすいだい] Sekisui-dai (contents + green + platform)
昇山 [しょうざん] Shouzan (ascend + mountain)
延王 [えんおう] Royal En (prolong)
卵果 [らんか] Ranka (egg/ovum + fruit)
碧双珠 [へきそうじゅ] Hekisouju (turquois + twin + gem)

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June 21, 2007

Ghost Rider


Ghost Rider was never going to be even a good B-movie. The comic book premise looks too absurd on screen, all the digital special effect notwithstanding (or because of the digital special effects). But with Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, and Sam Elliott (what a voice!) anchoring the leads, it needn't have been a boring B-movie.

To start with, Ghost Rider is thirty minutes too long. I fear that raw film processing takes up such a microscopic slice of movie budgets these days, nobody thinks twice anymore about shooting 20:1 or 30:1, and then can't bear to leave all that excess material on the editing room floor where it belongs.

In this case, the movie begins with almost a full half hour of two unnecessary backstories. Sam Elliott eventually re-explains the whole plot to Nicolas Cage, so it proves completely redundant. Doesn't anybody in Hollywood know what in media res means anymore?

The other problem is that obviously the director and/or producers could never truly admit how dumb a movie they were making. Eva Mendes, to start with, is completely impossible to take seriously. She looks like an over-inflated Barbi doll. Any more tension in that push-up bra and something might have exploded. But for some reason she keeps trying to act.

I sensed Nicolas Cage attempting to take things over the top with his Elvis/Evel Knievel impressions, but his engine kept getting over-choked. And Peter Fonda and Sam Elliott could have been given a healthier supply of fiber-filled scenery to chew on. At one point Elliott simply walks out of frame and never returns. I wondered if he'd died on the set.


But the real disappointment is that in a cheesy flick about the biker from hell trailing literal flames there isn't a single Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf song! Not even a Meat Loaf cameo! You gotta be kidding me!

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June 19, 2007

"Shadow of the Moon" revisions


It occurs to me that an editor other than the translator could be making some of these additions. The spelling of "Takki" as "Takkee" in particular strikes me as the kind of change a non-Japanese speaker would make.

TP is the TokyoPop translation. EW is my translation.

Chapter 36

1.  TP: Yoko slept away the rest of the day, occasionally waking to find Rakushun moving about nearby, bringing her medicine or cleaning. She came to realize that the rat-creature lived alone.

      EW: Youko spent the rest of the day in the room sleeping. She came [had come] to the conclusion that Rakushun was the sole occupant of the house.

The addition is not in the original. I might change the above verb tense to past perfect, though.

2.  TP: She gazed around unhappily. Rakushun wasn't there. Though there were two beds in the room

      EW: Though there were two beds in the room, Rakushun didn't sleep there.

The addition is not in the original.

3.  TP: Yoko didn't reply. She sat there, silently, letting the monkey's voice rattle on. I'm on to you, ape! He was the embodiment of the worries that lurked in the back of her mind; that monkey shape was only there to give her fears a voice, to feed on her growing unease.

      EW: Youko didn't answer. If she continued to lie there and listen, the blue monkey would just repeat itself over and over. These were her anxieties. The monkey appeared in order to reveal them to her. He fed her fears and then gobbled them down. She was sure that was the way it worked.

The addition is not in the original.

My translation of above paragraph actually is sentence-for-sentence the same as the original. This is not always the case. Because Japanese has an SOV (subject-object-verb) grammar, any noun can be turned into a subordinate clause simply by throwing a sentence in front of it. This means that a subordinate clause can literally be a paragraph long. In these cases, rather than try to reproduce the subordinate clause in English, I'll split it into its constituent parts.

In general, I do think short, declarative sentences are better than compound sentences, though I'm no Hemingway.

4.  TP: I'm sure I can handle four or five officials. In the meantime, I'll use the rat."

      EW: If four or five of them came at me, I'd get away with my head intact. I can handle things well enough for that."

The verb in the first clause of the first sentence is fumikomu, "to make a raid." The verb in the second clause is kirinukeru, "to cut one's way through." The second sentence doesn't have a subject (common enough in Japanese):

      LIT: Up to that point, [subject dropped] take advantage.

I'll give this one to TokyoPop: "But before that happens, I'll take advantage of the situation."

5.  TP: "I'm being careful."
      "Checked out all the angles, have you?"

      EW: "I'm taking precautions."
      "And I'm telling you that you'll be outsmarted."

      LIT: Are you saying that you won't be outsmarted?

I liked the parallelism (I'm / I'm), so I made it into a statement.

6.  TP: "I know, now. I know how the world is."
      I have no friends. No destination, no way to go home. I'm alone. Yet I must survive.
      Somehow, having nothing made her life all the more valuable. If every living thing in this world wanted Yoko to die?

      EW: "I have figured a few things out."
      Like the fact that she had no friends, no allies. The fact that she had no place to go, no home to return to. The fact that she was completely on her own. Nevertheless, she had to stay alive. A life without friends, a life with no place to call her own, yes, it sucked being her. But if everyone in this world wanted her dead, then she wouldn't die. And if no one in her old world wanted her back, then she'd go back anyway.

      LIT: " [subject dropped] . . . came to a realization."
      That Youko had no allies in this world. That she had no place to go to or place to return to. That she was all alone.
      Despite this, she had to stay alive. A life without allies and a place to live was the utter worst. If everything in this world wished for Youko's death, then she'd live to prove them wrong. If everything in the world she'd lived in before didn't wish her to return, she'd return to prove them wrong.

7.  TP: She knew this, and yet she had let Takkee and Matsuyama take her in so easily. Instead of trusting them and getting betrayed, she should have feigned trust and used them--used them all in order to survive.
      Use what you can use. What's wrong with that? Both Takkee and Matsuyama had been using Yoko to make some cash, so Yoko would use Rakushun for his healing. It was simple.

      EW: If she had understood even that much, she wouldn't have been duped by Takki and Matsuyama . She wouldn't have been so ready to trust and been so easily betrayed. When it came to staying alive, she would use the appearance of trust to get what she needed out of people. That was the better strategy to follow.
      Take advantage of people who could be taken advantage of. It wasn't the most ethical approach to life. Takki and Matsuyama had taken advantage of her to try and make themselves a little richer. She should have a few scruples, then, about using Rakushun to keep body and soul together.

The first mention of Takki's named is spelled out phonetically, so it is "Takki." Perhaps an editor use /ee/ because it's closer to the typical English pronuncation. It's not proper Hepburn, though. I prefer Hepburn for everything but double and long vowels.

My version is a little wordy: "She wouldn't have trusted so readily and been so easily betrayed." In the second paragraph: "Take advantage of people who could be taken advantage of. What was wrong with that?" (The question is in the original.)

8.  TP: "That's fine with me", muttered Yoko, waving her hand in the monkey's face like she might shoo away a bothersome fly.

      EW: "Just doing what I have to do," Youko muttered. She waved her hand dismissively.

Neither addition is in the original.

9.  TP: Talking to the monkey was helping to sort out her feelings and concerns quite nicely.
      I can use him, too.
      "Villain!"
      She heard a light, derisive chuckling coming from somewhere in the room.
      Yoko didn't care.

      EW: These were all the anxieties she didn't allow herself even to feel brought out in the open. It was proving a useful way to organize her thoughts, something she could take advantage of.
      She laughed again, derisively. "Yes, I really am turning into quite the little scoundrel."

      LIT: "Without a doubt, [subject dropped] becoming a splendid scoundrel it seems . . . ."
      Soft laughter of self-derision spilled forth.

The relevant verb here is jichou suru, "to sneer at oneself," The ji is reflexive. So I attributed these lines to Youko. The "again" can be deleted and the order reversed: "Yes, I really am turning into quite the little scoundrel." She laughed softly to herself in self-derision.

10.  TP: What if my hair turning red, and my eyes turning green, what if these were just steps towards becoming something else? Maybe I' not human at all. Maybe I am a demon.

      EW: Her hair had turned red, her eyes green. Were these the first steps in a total transformation? Perhaps that meant she wasn't a human being at all, but a youma.

This paragraph is not in italics, but it is posed as a hypothetical.

This is another case where I originally used "emerald green," which I think is better. Youko's eyes are variously described as "green" (midori) and, as in this case, "emerald green" (aoi, using the heki kanji). There are several words in Japanese that mean "blue" or "green" or "blue-green," depending on context.

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June 17, 2007

Chapter 4 (The Shore in Twilight)


The king directly commands the Imperial Army and the Palace Guard. Each province has a Provincial Guard commanded by the province lord. In A Thousand Leagues of Wind, Youko allies with the fugitive leadership of the Baku Provincial Guard (whom she had unwittingly exiled) to overthrow the corrupt government of Wa Province. She also ends up firing the generals of the Ei Provincial Guard for insubordination, after they refuse to mobilize according to her request through Keiki. This is not dissimilar from the way in which U.S. National Guard units are commanded by the individual state governors but can be mobilized by the president.

正頼 [せいらい] Seirai
花影 [かえい] Kaei

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June 12, 2007

"Shadow of the Moon" revisions


More analysis of the TokyoPop translation of Shadow of the Moon, this time focusing on Chapter 35.

1.  TP: The rain fell endlessly, like thin silken threads cast streaming from the sky.

      EW: Rain fell like slender threads scattered by the wind.

      LIT: Rain fell like scattered [maku: to disperse, to sow] threads.

2.  TP: Whether she was captured, attacked, or simply left to lie there in the mud, she would wind up in the same place.
      Dead.
      What eventually shuffled into her dimming vision was none of these things.

      EW: Whether she was arrested or attacked, or if she simply continued to lie there, her struggles would come to the same end.
      She looked up through the mist in the direction of the sound. It was neither a villager nor one of her pursuers.

      LIT: "Dead" is not in the original [I understand why it's there, though I would have preceded it with a colon or m-dash]. When she raised misted eyes [kasumu modifies eyes] toward the sound, a villager or a pursuer was not there.

      I split the above compound sentence into two sentences.

3.  TP. So, it was not a common wild animal, but it was no demon either. Yoko had encountered enough of those to tell the difference.

      EW: It didn't look like a run-of-the-mill beast or youma. Youko lay there and stared vacantly at this quite curious rat.

      LIT: It didn't look like an ordinary beast, but didn't look like a youma. And so Youko vacantly gazed at that strange rat.

4.  TP: The rat stood there, staring at her and seeming rather startled, though not unduly alarmed. It was a little chubbier than the rats she'd seen back home.

      EW: The rat stared back at Youko with a slightly stunned expression. It didn't seem to be getting ready to attack her. It was a bit plumper than a rat. Its fur was a color somewhere between a light brown and gray.

      I missed this line: It was a bit plumper than a rat.

5.  TP: The creature was covered in hair all the way down, even it's tail, which was a good thing, Yoko thought, for there were few things she found more revolting than naked rat tails.

      EW: The fur extended all the way down its tail, so though it looked like a rat, it obviously wasn't the same species [changed "obviously" to "probably"].

      The addition is not in the original.

6.  TP: Supported by the surprisingly strong rodent, Yoko allowed herself to be brought, staggering, to a small house among the trees. She remembered a door opening, and walking through it, and then everything faded.

      EW: Leaning on an arm stronger than she would have imagined, they made their way to a small house. That was the last thing she remembered.

      LIT: Youko did not remember the things that occurred after they made their way [the verb implies effort or a struggle] to a small house.

      The addition is not in the original.

7.  TP: In the long hours that followed, her awareness drifted in and out, and she saw many things, but her mind could make no sense of anything. She didn't know where she was, or if anyone was there with her, or if she would ever get up again. She went through fits of deep sleep alternating with light fevered dreams, and when she awoke at last she was inside a simple house, lying on a low, rustic bed.

      EW: Many times she had the sense of opening her eyes and taking in her surroundings, but she couldn't grasp what she was looking at or recall what she had seen. Her consciousness alternated between periods of deep sleep and light sleep. When at last she awoke for good, she found herself within a humble abode, lying on a bed.

      The addition is not in the original

8.  TP: There was apparently no one else in the small room. Dizzily Yoko peered around, then crawled over to check the far side of the bed, but she found no obvious threat. There was a small table and a simple shelf that was little more than a few boards stuck together with some folded cloth on it; atop that, her sword and the blue gem were neatly laid out.
      Yoko breathed a sigh of relief. After rubbing her legs to stimulate the circulation, she eventually managed to stand and reach the low shelf.

      EW: There was no one else in the small room. Her vision still spinning, she desperately searched around the bed on her hands and knees. There wasn't much in the way of furniture except for a stand next to the bed fashioned from a few planks of wood. Neatly arranged on the shelf were the sword, shrouded in a bolt of cloth, and the blue jewel, threaded through with a new cord.
      With a profound sense of relief she managed to stand up.

      LIT (last line): Youko relaxed. She somehow stood up and put the jewel around her neck and pick up the sword and cloth and returned to the bed.

      What I translate as "stand" is tana [shelf, rack, trellis, scaffold]. Ono later uses te-buru [table], but only once. I'm pretty sure the antecedent of "table" is "stand next to the bed fashioned from a few planks of wood."

      The second addition is not in the original.

9.  TP: . . . and breathed another deep sigh of relief. Though her life might be worth little at the moment, she reflected, she was glad she had been saved.
      EW: . . . and breathed a deep sigh of relief. Her life having been saved, she could begin to believe that no matter how worthless her existence still had value.

      I missed this line: Her life having been saved, she could begin to believe that no matter how worthless her existence still had value.

10.  TP: . . . Maybe you don't trust us?

      EW: Can you not trust me even that much?"

      LIT: Can't you trust [oira] even a little bit?

      The standard dictionary definition of oira is plural, except that Rakushun later uses it clearly as a first-person pronoun, so it is probably a regionalism, or a kind of "royal we."

11.  TP: . . . He -- Yoko decided it was a "he" -- reached out a paw, and Yoko did not flinch this time.

      EW: It reached out again. This time Youko did not shrink away.

      LIT: [The rat] extended a hand. This time Youko did not evade.

      The parenthetical is not in the original.

12.  TP: Yoko paused, then in a faint voice croaked, "Water".

      EW: Youko said uncertainly, "Water . . . . "

      LIT: With uncertainty [confusion, indecision] Youko opened her mouth. " . . . water."

13.  TP: The water had been boiled and was still a bit warm. It was delicious. Yoko drank several mugfuls and then looked into the bowl. It held a pinkish-orange concoction that smelled strongly of alcohol.

      EW: The almost hot water was delicious. She drained the cup over and over. Then she peered at the bowl, caught the scent of alcohol.

      The original word is yuzamashi, or "water that has been boiled and then allowed to cool," so this is actually a literalism (though a tad nonsensical, as it violates POV). The next line is not in the original. The translator here is describing "peaches pickled in wine and simmered with sugar."

14.  TP: "Me name's Rakushun. You?"

      EW: "My name's Rakushun. And you are?"

      Rakushun again uses oira as the first-person pronoun. He's obviously speaking in a regional accent. Imagine a Southern accent (or this an attempt at Cockney?). However, as we later learn that Rakushun is smart and well-read enough to qualify for the best secondary schools in the province (and to attend the national university in En), attributing ungrammatical speech to him is unacceptable.

15.  TP: Yoko had to work to keep her mouth from dropping open in surprise. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, she thought. If it speaks, why shouldn't it write? "Well, the yo is the character for sun, and the ko is the character for child," she explained gesturing:

      EW: "You as in youki (cheerful), and ko as in kodomo (child)."

      The addition is not in the original. This exchange between Rakushun and Youko is very common in Japanese culture. Because of the large number of homophones and nonstandard kanji used in first names (the EDICT name index lists 100 separate readings for "Youko"), Japanese often explain the "spelling" of their names using common words in which the same kanji appears.

16.  TP: "Sun-child, eh?" Rakushun tilted his head to one side, quizzically, then grinned. "Funny name, that. Where are you from?"

      EW: "Ko as in 'child'?" Rakushun tilted his head to the side. "Huh," he said. "That's a curious name. Where are you from?"

      Literally, Youko's name does mean "sun child," but that isn't how she explains it to Rakushun. Saying "sun child" by itself would suggest a different kanji than the one she means.

17.  TP: "Like me! Happy . . . and swift!"
      "At your service!" The rat smiled and took a bow.

      EW: The rat smiled. "It's Raku as in kuraku (sorrow and joy), and shun as in shunbin (quick-witted)."

      Again, "Rakushun" can literally mean "happy swiftness," but I think it says something about his character that he explains the first character of his name using kuraku [pleasure and pain, joys and sorrows], rather than a simple adjective like "fun" or a noun like "optimism." I believe this reflects Rakushun's knowledge that he is smart but unable to take advantage of his intelligence in Kou, a big reason he is willing to accompany Youko to En.

      The addition is not in the original.

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June 10, 2007

Chapter 3 (The Shore in Twilight)


The duties of the Hakuchi are described in chapter two of A Thousand Leagues of Wind.

長楽殿 [ちょうらくでん] Chouraku-den (long + comfort + palace)
花殿 [かでん] Ka-den (flower + palace)
白雉 [はくち] Hakuchi

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June 08, 2007

Snow on Mt. Timpanogos


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June 05, 2007

On Demand Books


The New York Times sums up the 2007 BookExpo America convention. I was particularly intrigued (I'm a sucker for cool gizmos) by this vendor:

On Demand Books LLC. is planning to become the first company to globally deploy a low cost, totally automatic book machine (The Espresso Book Machine), which can produce 15 - 20 library quality paperback books per hour, in any language, in quantities of one, without any human intervention.

Check out the video at their site (it takes a few minutes to download, so be patient). A Rube Goldberg machine for bibliophiles.

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June 03, 2007

Chapter 2 (The Shore in Twilight)


A summary of the class, rank and title system in the Twelve Kingdoms can be found in this note to A Thousand Leagues of Wind. The Daiboku is a lower-ranked baron (下大夫).

Koshou makes his first appearance (by name) in chapter 45 of A Thousand Leagues of Wind. Youko encounters him earlier, but doesn't know his identity.

路寝 [ろしん] Roshin (path + sleep)
正寝 [せいしん] Seishin (righteous + sleep)
大僕 [だいぼく] Daiboku
虎嘯 [こしょう] Koshou (tiger roar)
劉李斎 [りゅうりさい] Ryuu Risai (axe + plum + purification)
騎獣 [きじゅう] kijuu (riding horse + beast)

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June 01, 2007

Julian Gough on the literary novel


"What is wrong with the modern literary novel?" asks Julian Gough in the current issue of Prospect Magazine. "Why is it so worthy and dull? Why is it so anxious? Why is it so bloody boring?" The problem, he argues, is that we've forgotten that comedy is the true, default state of how art should react to the human condition, not tragedy:

At the time of Aristophanes, the Greeks believed that comedy was superior to tragedy: tragedy was the merely human view of life. But comedy was the gods' view, from on high . . . And the best of the old Greek comedy tried to give us that relaxed, amused perspective on our flawed selves. We became as gods, laughing at our own follies.

I find this perspective highly amenable to a Mormon theology that posits a God possessed of human empathy. The Mormon God must have a rich sense of been-there, done-that humor to understand the human condition. But we've been seduced by the same temptations: "If the subject is big, difficult and serious, the writer tends to believe the treatment must be in the tragic mode."

This leads Gough to the one major error in his essay, when he states that, "The Bible, from apple to Armageddon, does not contain a single joke."

This is an understandable mistake. The Bible is full of wry and bawdy humor. But we've been programmed to ignore and misinterpret it. In The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood notes that "we habitually think of [Jesus] as mild in manner, endlessly patient, grave in speech and serious . . . [but] a prosy literalism misses the wry humor . . . and the point of the teaching."

A good example of this is the encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4). It's a remarkably ribald exchange and Jesus doesn't shrink from matching her wit for wit. Likewise, the woman in Matthew 15 who retorts, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table," wins admiration from Jesus, not his condemnation or a turned-up nose.

The King James Version is no help in this respect. Compare the above passages in the KJV and NIV and the differences in tone become obvious. Humor largely arises out of colloquial usages, which date the fastest as language evolves. (On the plus side, Romeo and Juliet is allowed in high school classrooms because the dirty jokes sail right over our heads.)

If Gough misses the mark when it comes to scripture, he hits the nail on the head in his critique of the contributions of higher education to the highfalutin dullness of postmodern writing: "The literary novel, by accepting the embrace of the universities, has moved inside the establishment and lost contact with what made it vital." And yet it keeps on going because

if you must please the older generation to pass [the class] . . . you end up with cautious, old-fashioned novels. Worse, the system turns peers into teachers. Destroyed as writers, many are immediately re-employed, teaching creative writing. This is a Ponzi scheme.

And where, in contrast, does the narrative form survive in its least-corrupted form? Television. Gough specifically points to The Simpsons: "With its cartoon event-rate, a classic series of The Simpsons has more ideas over a broader cultural range than any novel written the same year."

In a recent post on what she calls "bad-tempered doctors with hearts of gold"--Cox (from Scrubs), Becker (from Becker) and House (from House)--my sister Kate concludes, "What makes all three of the doctors interesting to watch is that they act the role of 'fool' . . . in the old Shakespearean/King Lear sense. They say things other people won't admit or want to hear."

And in the process they appear foolish. Or as it says in Moses 6:38, "There is a strange thing in the land; a wild man hath come among us." A longing for such "wild men" I think can be detected in the wistful sense of loss with which Mormon share J. Golden Kimball stories, knowing that his kind will never come again.

Of course, liking television, especially commercial television, is not something educated people are supposed to do. Gough admits that citing The Simpsons in the same breath as Aristophanes might get him labeled a barbarian. So be it. The literary novel "needs the barbarians. It secretly yearns for them." I'm with Gough. If anybody's up for storming the gates, count me in.

Cross-posted at A Motley Vision.

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