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The beginning of Kawabata Yasunari's snow country is difficult for many translators

2021-08-27 23:33:28 Beijing daily client

Kawabata Yasunari is the peak of Japanese literature in the past century , In the use of language , He expanded the boundaries of Japanese , It is undoubtedly the gospel of readers , But when a creative breakthrough occurs in a language , It is often difficult to find correspondence in other languages , Then it will become the translator's “ The nightmare ”.

From Kawabata Yasunari to the most famous 《 Snow country 》 The opening , Then you can have a glimpse .《 Snow country 》 The first three sentences , In Japan, almost everyone can recite :

Border の Long いトンネルを To make a living けると Snow country であった. night の At the end of が white くなった. The signal is に Automobile が stop まった.

The Chinese and English translations of these three sentences are as follows ( Only the most popular versions are selected here ):

Through the long tunnel of the county , Snow country . Under the night sky, there is a vast expanse of whiteness . The train stopped at the signal post .( Translated by Ye Weiqu )

The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the night sky.The train pulled up at a signal stop.( Edward · George · Translated by sedensteik )

There have been countless discussions about the beauty of the first sentence , Today I want to focus on the second sentence :

night の At the end of が white くなった.

Compared with the original , Whether it's Chinese translation “ Under the night sky, there is a vast expanse of whiteness ”, Or English translation “The earth lay white under the night sky”, In fact, they lost a lot of things .

If translated into Chinese , This sentence should be “ The bottom of the night turned white ”. What's good about it ? What is lost in the translation ?

Kawabata Yasunari 1946 Year photo

First , Kawabata Yasunari used a very accurate description . Only those who have lived in the snow , To instantly understand such a scene .

Now when it comes to “ Snowy night ”, What appears to be in people's minds is “ Night and snow 、 Heaven and earth are clear ”. But this is not true , It's just a literary imagination . In the vast darkness , Darkness envelops everything , In fact, people can't see snow . Probably only on the night of the fifteenth lunar month , When the moon is brightest , To have a strong contrast between black and white .《 Snow country 》 Written in the 1930s , At that time, electricity was far less popular than today .

therefore , stay 《 Snow country 》 The opening , After the train rushed out of the tunnel , What people feel is still continuous darkness . Only when the light comes , The snow will reflect white , The night and the earth became clear in an instant . In the novel , This light comes from the train lights and distant signal lights ( Just catch the next sentence “ The train stopped at the signal post ”). The light shines on the snow , Then the passengers in the car feel the change of darkness , There is a small time difference between them , Kawabata Yasunari keenly captured , So write down “ It's white ”. Whether Chinese or English translation , It doesn't reflect this .

second ,“ The bottom of the night turned white ”, It's a poetic language , Full of modernity and expressiveness , Specifically, it has a kind of “ Container feeling ”.

The night is boundless and invisible , And if there is a thing “ Bottom ”, It must have a boundary .“ night ” And “ Bottom ”, Two seemingly contradictory things are combined together , It reflects Kawabata Yasunari's sensitive understanding and delicate use of language .

In Kawabata Yasunari's pen , Night is boundless , It's also tangible .

If you really walk through the snow night , You'll find that , The day may be wide , And at night , After people's eyesight is obscured by darkness , The night will cover itself like a cover .

On the other hand , Something with a bottom , Such as bottle 、 basin 、 cylinder , Even the pool 、 The sea , Many are used to hold liquids .“ night ” If you have a bottom , Then the night starts from an invisible thing , Into a liquid . And the train that drilled out of the tunnel , It becomes a floating boat floating on the water , And then with the protagonist Island Village “ A wandering life of inaction ” It's connected . so to speak , Kawabata Yasunari used the simplest words , Created the most infinite images .

In this sentence “ Container feeling ”, I'm sorry, too , Neither Chinese nor English translation can reflect . chinese “ Under the night sky, there is a vast expanse of whiteness ”, It is very in line with the aesthetic habits of Chinese people , But its image is too broad , It even runs counter to the image created by the original text , It is inevitable that readers will have aesthetic deviation when reading .

Kawabata Yasunari 1968 Year photo

Last ,“ The bottom of the night turned white ”, This sentence is actually a typical writing technique of the New Feeling School .

Neo sensationalism is an important school of Japanese literature in the 20th century , Kawabata Yasunari is the standard bearer writer of the New Feeling School . The writers of the New Feeling School describe the inner world rather than the surface reality , Therefore, it is advocated to use a kind of “ A new feeling ” To feel everything in life and the world . In terms of writing skills , That is, we often turn the external scene into subjective feelings .

《 Snow country 》 There is no subject in the opening sentence of , This is not in line with the habit of English , So the English translator added the subject when translating “The train”( train ). The translation has been greatly criticized , Because it is not difficult to find , The opening point of view is not to float overhead and watch the train rush out of the tunnel , It is an internalized perspective , It's sitting in the car and looking out through the window .

“ The bottom of the night turned white ” The same is true , It's people's subjective feelings .《 Snow country 》 I started with a few strokes , It seems to be a simple description of the scenery , In fact, Kawabata Yasunari transformed them into the inner feelings of the protagonist Shimura . Chinese English translation , These sentences have been translated into ordinary objective descriptions , Therefore, it lacks the charm of the new feeling school .

But I have to say , Translators have done their best . Just imagine , If literal translation , What will happen ? The biggest possibility is to be scolded by readers , say “ The translator failed in Chinese , Don't speak ”. After all , In addition to introducing new forms of expression , We should also consider the aesthetic habits of our national language .

This is a dilemma . A lot of times , Dancing on two steel wires . And that's why , Translation is almost an impossible task . however , Knowing that it is impossible to complete , Still trying to get close to perfection , Isn't this the most attractive part of the translation process ?

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