1. hoist

    hoist New Member

    May 27, 2010
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    The corner of Bedlam and Squalor

    How much gets lost in translation?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by hoist, May 27, 2010.

    So a friend is nudging me onto Haruki Murakami.

    It sounds like the sort of stuff that would get me going, you know, tasty postmodernism with bits of fantasy and surrealism and humor. But he's very obviously Japanese, and oddly enough, so are his books. (Stranger things have happened.)

    I've got a mind to read the translated Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but am wondering if reading the work while juggling the additional translator's notes will be worth the effort. I've thought the same about Tolstoy and Camus and all those types: just how much would I be missing out on?

    (Oh, Murakami, you tease.)
  2. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    There are nuances and such that one misses out, but that's just something the reader has to deal with. Unless you are willing to learn many, many languages, translations are your best bet. If the translator is good, then not much is lost at all (although things like wordplay are not really translatable).

    From my experience, translators do a fairly good job with prose. It's poetry that is hard to translate, and I find that some translators go for a literal translation while others are more creative with their translations.

    Bottom line is that not much is lost in translation, so you shouldn't be put off by translations.
  3. arron89

    arron89 Banned

    Oct 10, 2008
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    Translations of Haruki Murakami are particularly good. I mean, I don't read Japanese so I can't account for the word-for-word accuracy, but there's no sense that anything is missing in the translation, and from what I've read from people like Jay Rubin and Murakami himself, it seems like the translations do a good job of conveying what they were originally intended to convey.

    And if you do get around to reading him, make sure you read South of the Border, West of the Sun.

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