Hommes, ycy n'a point de mocquerie

When Iwanami Bunko made bookmarks in the late 1970s, they didn't kid around.

This delightful number is advertising their edition of Villon's complete poetic works, and contains the first stanza of the "Ballad of the Hanged", plus a grueseome woodcut of des pendus themselves, flesh pointedly devoree et pourrie. (No, I don't know why there are only three of them.)

The translator for the Iwanami edition was Francophile writer and translator SUZUKI Shintarō, a Meiji man who left behind a gloriously archaic body of work. You can check out the first few lines of the "Ballad" in Suzuki's translation here: わが亡き後にながらふる一切衆生よ...

That 一切衆生 (= freres humains) is actually Buddhist jargon. 一切 means "all", and 衆生 was the original Chinese translation for Sanskrit sattva as in "living things", replaced by 有情 ("possessors of feelings") in later translated Chinese texts. Interesting to see a word like that into a translation of so desperately Christian a poem. Presumably Suzuki decided that it wasn't that Buddhist a concept, and/or liked the distant echo of a grand, sweeping spirituality that it evokes.

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