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?
僕は自分が自分自身であることを初めて自覚するようになった日のことを鮮明に覚えている。つまり、自分自身を、他のいかなるものとも違う何かとして自覚するようになった日のことだ。子供の頃、僕は、一年間のうちで、ある季節が終わり、次の季節がまだ始まらない間の、何もない狭間の時期が一番好きだった。そこでは全てのものが灰色で静まりかえっていて、その静寂の中から何かが、小さくて、柔らかくて、はっきりとしない何かが、僕に近づいてきて、関心を引くように思えたのだ。その日、僕は町の大通りを歩いていた。十一月だったか、それとも三月だったか、寒くはなく、暖かくも涼しくもなかった。暗く雲の垂れ込めた空からは細かい粒の雨が降ってきていて、その粒はあまりにも細かく、ほとんど感じることができない程だった。それは午前中で、主婦たちは買い物かごを手に提げ、頭にスカーフを被って外出していた。何かを探している犬が、脇目もふらず、まるで歩道に引かれた見えない直線に沿うようにして、急ぎ足で通り過ぎていった。煙の匂い、肉屋の肉の匂い、海のしょっぱい匂い、そして当時の小さな町ではよくあったように、豚の餌の甘い匂いがしていた。金物屋の開いた戸口は、前を通り過ぎる僕に、陰気な匂いを吐きかけた。こうしたものすべてを取り込みながら、僕は、幸福としか名付けられないような何かを感じていた。ただそれは幸福ではなく、幸福以上でも以下でもある何かだった。何が起こっていたのだろう？ 僕の目の前のあるどこにでもある光景、小さな町のありふれた景色、音、匂いの中にある何が、この予想できないもの、それが何であるかも分からないけれど、とにかくそれを、まるで人生におけるあらゆる切望に対するひとつの答えの可能性のように、僕の中に突如として芽生えさせたのだろうか？ 主婦たちも、せわしない犬も、すべてのものが同じままだった。同じままなのに、どこかが形を変えていた。幸福と不安が同時に訪れた。それはまるで、守らなくてはいけない脆い器を運んでいるかのようだった。宗教の授業で聞いた物語の中の、外衣の下にホスチアを隠して、古代ローマの放蕩な通りを歩いて行かなくてはならない少年のように。けれど、僕の場合は、まるで僕自身がその貴重な器であるかのようだった。そうだ、その通りだ、ここで起こっているのはまさに僕そのものなのだ。それがいったい何を意味しているのか、判然とはしなかったが、でも確かに、僕は自分に言い聞かせた、何か意味があるに違いない。そして僕は、幸福な困惑の中で、小雨の下、心の中に自分自身の謎を抱えながら、そのまま歩き続けた。
Comment on Eclipse
One of the most difficult parts of translating Eclipse was to reproduce the voice of Banville’s protagonist. It required the analysis of the character through careful reading of the rest of the novel, as well as the understanding of Banville’s techniques to explore the character’s personal recollection.
Part of difficulty comes from the first-person narrative. In order to reproduce Alex Cleeve’s narrative, we read the entire novel in our class at graduate school and discussed Cleeve’s personality. It especially took time to choose the narrator’s first-person pronoun, since Japanese has several different pronouns for “I,” depending on the speaker’s self-recognition, including age and gender identities. In the beginning I chose “私 (watashi),” which is unisex and formal, and thus implies the maturity of the speaker, but as I understood Cleeve’s introverted character, attachment to the past and dysfunctional relationship with his wife and daughter, I came to prefer “僕 (boku),” which connotes introspectiveness but also naïveté and immaturity of a young man.
It was also challenging to translate long sentences in Cleeve’s narrative. In the excerpt, Banville chooses to combine shorter clauses to make long sentences, as if Cleeve gradually remembers what happened on the day in the past. Since our language has different syntax from English, we had trouble with translating long sentences with relative clauses and additional phrases inserted with commas. It required some modifications on translators’ part, such as splitting a sentence into two, inserting extra punctuations, and even adding extra phrases to the original.
The most difficult part of the translation, however, is to make the translation would sound natural. The first-person narrative requires the translator to create the entire vocabulary of a fictional person in the target language. It is especially challenging for the translators to devise Cleeve’s vocabulary, which is exceptionally rich and unique, so that the translation would sound natural as an individual’s speech. Banville’s first-person narrative made me realize that how vocabulary is tailored to an individual, and that the translators have to make an utmost effort to reproduce it in a different language.