Saturday, November 13, 2010

Australian literature and cultural differences.

I was daydreaming as I was reading Monkey Grip (again!) in the lounge.

'What's it like to translate this into Japanese?' I thought out of nowhere.

This is the first Australian Novel I was grabbed into, and I wanted so much, that someone translates this book.

Then I must be friggin' hard to express all what there is in that book in Japanese.

The fragmental writing she adopted, the images and the colourful descriptive language that reflects the culture (or subculture) and the emotions of the characters.

To start with, what's in the book is almost too complex and too controversial for average Japanese audiences to take in, definitely not my parents' generation.

There is the huge risk of sounding cheap in Japanese language, where it isn't.

It's far from being superficial - in fact, it's so deep that it's painful.

The turbulent, complicated, conflicted emotions of the protagonist is difficult to portray in the different language with the cultural difference so huge from what's in there.

Traditional Japanese writing is very controlled, to the extent that may sound...disciplined.

It's not just the writing, but the culture and society seem way more disciplined compared to that of Australia.

Japanese people exercise to be polite to everyone since they are children.

We are taught not to yell at people, not to say anything impolite, not to show too strong emotions.

You see on the train, on the bus, people sleeping or concentrating into reading their newspapers or magazines but not talking to the other passengers.

Public confrontations are rare.

You see all the emotional controls in the traditional Japanese drama called Kabuki.

And you taste, the plainness and simplicity in the Japanese cooking, which also represents the discipline to avoid using excessive seasoning in order not to kill the natural colours and flavours. Some Australians may find the taste a bit bland.

Of course it doesn't mean that western and ethnic cooking kill the natural flavour - it's about the different idea in flavouring and that's all there is. The way other countries' cuisines use a lot of spices or cheese are meant to enhance, but not to kill, the flavours.

Confucian philosophy in our culture seems to disagree with the idea of 'excessive?' enhancing.

The idea also used to apply to the way of clothing - say, no flashy dresses unless you are a geisha or an actor.

Japanese culture these days is lot more open and flexible than what it used to be.

Young generation wear clothes even more quirky and idiosyncratic than western and the culture's progressing rapidly, yet the discipline in the language still remains.

Probably that's what makes the translation of this work such a difficult task.

Japanese language has its own delicate, subtle beauty, which is unique and that I'm proud of.

And I have to admit, that many English translation of Japanese novels kill that subtlety of the language - It's inevitable, though.

The chance is, that the same thing may happen when those fabulous Australian novels are translated into Japanese.

I can't find the right words to describe - but my favourite Australian writing cuts right into my heart.

Let's face it; you feel the feelings of the characters, you visualize the pictures and understand the culture through the language - which is impossible to completely capture in the other language.

And you may have to be in the culture to fully appreciate the story.

There is another fabulous book titled "Cloud Street", written by Tim Winton, the famous Australian writer from Western Australia - and that is my favorite so far.

I would recommend this book to anyone who reads in English.

Australian literature is never to be underestimated!!!

I've found a few Japanese contemporary novels that are as grim and morbid as Americal Psycho...wonder how Australians find them...:D

No comments:

Post a Comment