Karakuri Babble is a daily column by the editors of i360.com, usually on topics tangentially related to anime and cosplay.

In the past we have endorsed many things; in the future we shall support many others.

a futile attempt to improve something perfect.

My favorite Mishima book is probably The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, largely on the strength of its title. It's evocative, ominous, lyrical and suggestive -- traits that, now that I think of it, fairly describe the novel itself.

The Japanese title, while it isn't bad, isn't anywhere near as flashy. It's 『午後の曳航』 -- that last refers to tugging a ship, as you would do when entering or leaving a harbor. The part that doesn't translate is that it's a homophone for "glory" -- 栄光 -- and thus it neatly summarizes the essential conflict in the book, between a sailor's pursuit of an ordinary life and the boys who want to transfigure him into an idealized wanderer. He's dragged against his will -- dragged to glory, as the pun would have it.

It really is untranslatable, particularly in the constraints of a title. I might have foregone the pun entirely and substituted an allusion -- "Glory in the Afternoon," riffing off Hemingway, or perhaps "Slouching towards Glory" after Keats, both of these reinforcing the link between death and glory, but I wouldn't have gotten anything like Mishima's English title. Truly amazing.

words from chris, 2014-06-13 18:28:24, mountain view


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