I clearly recall the day I first became truly aware of myself, I mean of myself as something that everything else was not. As a boy I liked best those dead intervals of the year when one season had ended and the next had not yet begun, and all was grey and hushed and still, and out of the stillness and the hush something would seem to approach me, some small, soft, tentative thing, and offer itself to my attention. This day of which I speak I was walking along the main street of the town. It was November, or March, not cold, but neutral. From a lowering sky fine rain was falling, so fine as to be hardly felt. It was morning, and the housewives were out, with their shopping bags and headscarves. A questing dog trotted busily past me looking neither to right nor left, following a straight line drawn invisibly on the pavement. There was a smell of smoke and butcher’s meat, and a brackish smell of the sea, and, as always in the town in those days, the faint sweet stench of pig-swill. The open doorway of a hardware shop breathed brownly at me as I went past. Taking in all this, I experienced something to which the only name I could give was happiness, although it was not happiness, it was more and less than happiness. What had occurred? What in that commonplace scene before me, the ordinary sights and sounds and smells of the town, had made this unexpected thing, whatever it was, burgeon suddenly inside me like the possibility of an answer to all the nameless yearnings of my life? Everything was the same now as it had been before, the housewives, that busy dog, the same, and yet in some way transfigured. Along with the happiness went a feeling of anxiety. It was as if I were carrying some frail vessel that it was my task to protect, like the boy in the story told to us in religious class who carried the Host through the licentious streets of ancient Rome hidden inside his tunic; in my case, however, it seemed I was myself the precious vessel. Yes, that was it, it was I that was happening here. I did not know exactly what this meant, but surely, I told myself, surely it must mean something. And so I went on, in happy puzzlement, under the small rain, bearing the mystery of myself in my heart.
Was it that same phial of precious ichor, still inside me, that spilled in the cinema that afternoon, and that I carry in me yet, and that yet will overflow at the slightest movement, the slightest misbeat of my heart?
The protagonist Alex Cleeve narrates his story using the pronoun “I.” Thus, the question about the first person pronoun arises. There are three pronouns available for men in Japanese: “私 (watashi),” “僕 (boku),” and “俺 (ore).” “俺” is the most masculine pronoun among the three, and it will sound rather boorish and childish if a man in his fifties uses it in public. “僕” is less masculine than “俺,” and it is suitable for a mature male to use it although it is frequently used by young boys. “私” differs from both “俺” and “僕,” because it is a neutral pronoun, that is, it can be used by both men and women in public occasions, and it will not sound childish. From the above-mentioned points, I considered that “僕” or “私” can be used as the translation of “I” because Cleeve is an adult male and he does not seem to emphasize his masculinity. Between these two pronouns, “私” gives a more formal and politer impression while “僕” seems personal and private. As the protagonist-narrator, Cleeve tries to give an account of his story with self-consciousness. So, I think that he narrates his story in a formal way to some degree. Therefore, in the end, I chose “私” as the most suitable translation of “I.”
Second, the most difficult point was whether I should divide a long sentence into shorter sentences or not. For instance, I separated the sentence beginning with “As a boy….” into three sentences, and the sentence “Was it that same phial of precious ichor…” into two. The structure of sentence in Japanese differs from that in English in that Japanese has SOV structure whereas English has SVO structure. A main clause can be modified by adding relative clauses or participial phrases in English. On the other hand, information added after a main clause in English has to be placed before the predicate verb in a main clause in Japanese. Because of this structure, a long Japanese sentence containing several clauses will be difficult and complicated to read. Therefore, I attempted to make translation easier to read by separating a long sentence into shorter ones. Nevertheless, the sentence “What in that commonplace scene before me….” could not be divided into shorter sentences because of the original sentence structure; consequently, I chose to keep it as one sentence even though the Japanese sentence becomes a little complicated.
The final challenge was how I translated some words which were unfamiliar to the Japanese, such as the “Host,” “tunic,” and “ichor.” First, I considered how the “Host” can be translated. If I selected the translation “ホスチア (the loanword for the Host),” many Japanese readers would not understand except those who are familiar with Christianity. Therefore, I chose “聖餐式のパン (bread used in the Communion),” so that readers would see that the text is related to Christianity. In the case of “tunic,” although the exact translation would be “膝上にとどく上衣 (a loose garment reaching to the knees),” I decided to use the loanword “チュニック,” because it is used to indicate a type of women’s garment in Japan now. It was also difficult for me to translate “ichor” in Japanese. The simplest translation was, again, the loanword “イコル,” but it was not understandable. Therefore, in the end, I chose “神々の霊液 (the gods’ fluid)” in order to explain what it was.