Juliet Winters Carpenter on Ryōma!  Literary Translation in Kyoto

Translating Ryōma!: The Life of Sakamoto Ryōma, Japanese Swordsman and Visionary (vol. 1)

A Talk by Juliet Winters Carpenter, Kyoto, October 7 (Sun.), 2018

Time: 1:00–3:30 p.m.

Place: Room 207, James-kan, Doshisha Women’s College, Imadegawa Campus (for directions to the campus, see http://www.dwc.doshisha.ac.jp/english/access/imadegawa/; for a campus map showing James-kan, see http://www.dwc.doshisha.ac.jp/english/access/imadegawa/campusmap.html)

Fee: ¥500 yen for SWET members; ¥1,000 yen for non-members

RSVP: Reservations appreciated. Please email SWET Kansai.

Order your copy and get reading on Amazon Kindle:  http://bit.ly/Ryoma1_Kindle.

The talk will delve into some of the challenges and delights in translating Shiba Ryotaro’s most famous work, Ryoma ga yuku: dialects, swordfighting and sword nomenclature, avoiding repetition while maintaining some of the newspaper-novel style, deciding on the level of historical detail needed, and more.

Ryoma ga yuku (1963-66) has been a monster best-seller in Japan, with some 24 million copies sold to date. It is a rollicking page-turner with a beloved protagonist, Sakamoto Ryoma—a man who more than most paved the way for the Meiji Restoration. Three translators have split the volumes (Margaret Mitsutani, vols 4-5; Paul McCarthy, vols. 1, 3, and 7; myself, vols. 2, 6, and 8). The first volume of the English translation is now out, and the rest will follow through 2020. In the talk I will discuss challenges such as rendering various dialects (Kochi, Kagoshima, Edo, Kyoto…); dealing with minutiae of kendo and swords; translating the various waka that occur in the text; coordinating a myriad details with the help of our indefatigable editor, Phyllis Birnbaum; trying not to overwhelm the Western reader with too many foreign personal and place names, and generally trying to make the novel as lively and appealing in English as it is in Japanese.

Juliet Winters Carpenter has lived in Japan for over forty-five years and is a prolific, award-winning translator of Japanese literature. Besides Ryoma!, other recent translations include works by Minae Mizumura, Miura Shion, and Nakano Koji. She is currently also working on a book about Kyoto business—its heritage industries and high-tech industries—and a compendium of a dozen or so “greatest hits” of Japanese literature in translation. She will retire from Doshisha Women’s College in March 2019.