Genji Response - 1 In class discussion we primarily agreed...

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1. In class discussion, we primarily agreed that having a translation that captures the message of the literary work is more important than preserving the exact translation for The Tale of the Genji . The efficacy of the piece comes from the insight readers get into Japanese Heian culture and court life – the Tale of the Genji is an unfiltered account, albeit fictional, of the beliefs and ideals of political figures. The concise and accurate translation makes it easy for readers to gather a stronger understanding of the social constructs, elaborate hierarchies, gender roles, and temptations of court figures. In addition, preserving the accuracy of meaning of Murasaki’s ideas in a simpler manner makes the reading more accessible to general readers, whereas a translation that emphasized heavy literary ornamentation and preservation of the long, flowing sentences would be more difficult to understand, interpret, and analyze. On the other hand, a translation that emphasizes literary ornamentation and direct word-by-word conversions could be very useful for historians or scholars analyzing the writing styles and word choice/phrases that were common in that period. This is similar to examining translations of the Iliad, when we discussed whether Professor Willy’s translation of the shield that emphasized message and concision was more or less effective than the Lattimore translation that seeks to provide a direct and decorative literary interpretation.
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