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Book group?

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Book group?

Postby pippa » Wed 11.05.2008 9:42 am

Would anyone be interested in starting a book group for english-language books related to Japanese culture/history/literature?

Some ideas:

*The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict (Japanese culture)
*Embracing Defeat by John Dower (Japanese history)
*The Setting Sun by Dazai Osamu (Japanese literature)
*Rice as Self by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (Japanese culture/history)
Last edited by pippa on Wed 11.05.2008 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Book group?

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 11.05.2008 9:52 am

What exactly would an online book group entail? Reading the same book and offering our opinions and ideas on it here in the forum? That might be an interesting idea.
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Re: Book group?

Postby pippa » Wed 11.05.2008 9:58 am

becki_kanou wrote:What exactly would an online book group entail? Reading the same book and offering our opinions and ideas on it here in the forum? That might be an interesting idea.


Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking. If a few people were interested in discussing a particular book, then we could start a new thread and go from there. It would still be ok if people joined later, because it would be just like any other thread on this forum.

If you'd like to suggest any books, that would be great. The ones I listed above are some of the ones I am more familar with, but we could go with something entirely different.
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Re: Book group?

Postby becki_kanou » Wed 11.05.2008 10:03 am

For myself I'd be much more interested in literature by Japanese authors, but I'd like to hear what others think.
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Re: Book group?

Postby Harisenbon » Thu 11.06.2008 9:24 pm

becki_kanou wrote:For myself I'd be much more interested in literature by Japanese authors, but I'd like to hear what others think.


We tried this a couple years ago with ... some Murakami book of short stories about a monkey...
I still have the book, but I seem to remember that we never really got more than 3-4 stories into it before people stopped posting...

Would this be a book group of english language or Japanese language books?
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Re: Book group?

Postby richvh » Thu 11.06.2008 9:27 pm

I actually finished reading 夜のくもざる this summer.
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Re: Book group?

Postby pippa » Thu 11.06.2008 9:52 pm

Would anybody be interested in reading some Souseki or Dazai or Akutagawa? I saw in another thread that Yudan Taiteki was reading Kokoro in Japanese. Would anybody be interested in reading this in English? Or we could go more recent...

I think we should start an English-language book group first, because this would be more inclusive. If people were keen to try their hand at reading in Japanese, I'd be willing to join a Japanese-language book group as well.
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Re: Book group?

Postby MMM » Sun 11.09.2008 5:05 am

I would be inclined if it was modern Japanese writers in English. I joined a local Japanese book club and they decided to spend several months on The Tale of Genji. I have a feeling that club no longer exists.
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Re: Book group?

Postby pippa » Sun 11.09.2008 6:02 am

I'm up for that. Any suggestions/requests?
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Re: Book group?

Postby becki_kanou » Sun 11.09.2008 8:12 am

I'd like to read some modern authors in English or in Japanese, but starting in English would probably allow more people to join in. How about some Murakami? (Haruki or Ryuu)...
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Re: Book group?

Postby richvh » Sun 11.09.2008 9:16 am

We've already tried Haruki Murakami. How about Fuyumi Ono's Twelve Kingdoms series? The first two books are already out in English. There are even manga versions of two of the books.
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Re: Book group?

Postby spin13 » Sun 11.09.2008 3:11 pm

becki_kanou wrote:I'd like to read some modern authors in English or in Japanese, but starting in English would probably allow more people to join in. How about some Murakami? (Haruki or Ryuu)...


I'd be down for some Murakami, though I'm not particularly interested in reading them in English. I finished 2nights 4girls (Ryuu) and 東京奇譚集 (Haruki) last month. From what Harisenbon said it sounds like "Tokyo" was already done, but I'd be interested to hear somebody else's opinion on "2nights." Unfortunately, as far as I know, it hasn't been translated.

Right now I'm reading H.C. Anderson's 絵のない絵本 (English: What the Moon Saw), but it's very short so I'd be open to other book suggestions.

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Re: Book group?

Postby MMM » Mon 11.10.2008 1:46 am

If people are reading the same book, theoretically it wouldn't matter if we were reading in Japanese or in English, right?
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Re: Book group?

Postby becki_kanou » Mon 11.10.2008 3:40 am

I guess that's true, but I noticed when reading Hard Boiled Wonderland that some passages in the Japanese edition were nowhere to be found in the English edition. It was otherwise very well translated (by Jay Rubin if I recall) but one or two passages were simply not in the English version. I could get out the books and check again if anyone is interested, but I wonder how common this is?

Also, this type of discrepancy is probably very uncommon, but a student of mine really loved the book "Scarlett" (the sequel to "Gone with the Wind" so she decided she would try to read at least the last chapter in English. It was completely different from the last chapter she remembered from reading the Japanese version, so she asked me to check them to make sure it wasn't just her lack of English knowledge. Reading the last few pages in both versions, they were completely different, to an extant that simply could not be explained by loose/natural translation. They actually portrayed different scenes! Not a real worry for any books we might read, but I just wanted to throw this out there.

MMM, as a professional translator are you aware of other translators doing anything like this?

Also a suggestion from me; would anyone be interested in reading some of Edogawa Rampo's short stories?
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Re: Book group?

Postby spin13 » Mon 11.10.2008 4:13 am

becki_kanou wrote:I guess that's true, but I noticed when reading Hard Boiled Wonderland that some passages in the Japanese edition were nowhere to be found in the English edition. It was otherwise very well translated (by Jay Rubin if I recall) but one or two passages were simply not in the English version. I could get out the books and check again if anyone is interested, but I wonder how common this is?


I thought I had heard something like that, too, but upon a little digging it turns out I was thinking of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (which I have not, however, read yet). It appears that not only is Jay Rubin's English version cut, but Murakami himself made cuts from the hardcover to paperback in Japanese as well. Read about it here from the translators' perspective.

becki_kanou wrote:Also a suggestion from me; would anyone be interested in reading some of Edogawa Rampo's short stories?


I'm not big into mystery, but I'd give his shorts a shot. It certainly would give me a chance to learn a new set of vocab.

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