Night soil

My new translation for Néojaponisme, IZUMI Kyōka's "Night fishing" (夜釣), is up. (And thanks to Boing Boing and apparently William Gibson [!] for the extra publicity and ego fuel.)

A few people have expressed confusion over what exact sequence of events it is supposed to depict. To that, I answer only "amorphous dread". Other folks have wondered what the "like this" in the final sentence means. This is a translation issue, so I will step up to the plate. The source I am translating there is 恁う, . Although you very rarely see it written with that kanji today, it is the common word that means "like this" and runs with ("like that") ("like what"), and so on.

The NJ comment thread hypothesizes that this is meant to represent a sort of surprise physical ending, like telling a campfire story quietly and then shouting at the end to shock your audience. This is what I intended. Kyōka carefully frames the piece as a tale related verbally, though it was of course published in printed form, and although I did take advantage of certain facts of English syntax to rework the final revelation of imagery, I don't think I have strayed too far from his original intentions.

And here's a special bonus for blog readers. "Night fishing" was originally published in the Sunday Mainichi in 1911. Aozora's copy includes an extra, entirely unrelated paragraph at the end, separated by a diamond. It seems pretty clearly intended to fill up space. I'm not sure if Kyōka wrote it himself or whether some sub-editor threw it in, but here it is:

Santō Kyōden would work so feverishly when writing a story that he forgot even to sleep and eat. When a new story idea came to him, he would leap up and run to his writing desk, even if it was the middle of the night.

He would eventually become so deeply engrossed in his work that even going to the bathroom felt like a waste of precious time -- and so, they say, he kept the chamber pot beside his writing desk.

Popularity factor: 6

language hat:

Very nice -- thanks for linking it!

Me, I'd translate chameshi as "tea-rice"; it may not be perfect (yeah, yeah, soya), but at least it gives a general idea, whereas chameshi is just an undigested lump of Local Color.


An acquaintance said to me recently, "You know, I really respect you and I want you to know that. But if you ever had something featured on Boing Boing, I would be very proud to be able to call you my friend."

You're living the Internet dream!

Homo Oeconomicus:

Good job, but one weird blooper: "let’s go to the kitchen together"? Did you really want that "together" in there? Is going to the kitchen "separately" an option?


Thanks, folks!

LH: You're right. I had intended to hyperlink that to an explanation (or a recipe!) but forgot. Inexcusable.

HŒ: I think (though I could be making this up after the fact) that my intention here was to emphasize the "together": the kids tell her to go look, and she tries to get them to come with her. Clearly something went wrong in the execution, though, or it wouldn't strike you as a blooper.

Homo Oeconomicus:

It might be an allergic reaction I have to the 和製英構文 "let's do sth together" in which the "together" is considered to be required, if not simply good form. Blame it on the JET program - I do.


You would have hated my first draft, then, in which she says "Let's enjoy going to the kitchen together!"

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