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Translation or Transformation: A Chat with Motoyuki Shibata

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A WorldCat view of Prof. Motoyuki Shibata's works

Looking for Gorey in the Land of the Rising Sun? Try these companies. Most display Japanese only*

Kawade Shobo

* and if your computer isn't set up for Asian languages, you may see a lot of question marks


So naturally, there would be questions. Late this February, Goreyography was fortunate enough to ask Professor Shibata some of the less weighty ones about his work:

Goreyography: Professor Shibata, of the translated Edward Gorey titles, which are your favorites?

Motoyuki Shibata: My favorites are The Eclectic Abcedarium and The Glorious Nosebleed.

G: How were the Gorey books to translate?

MS: On one hand, a book like The Unstrung Harp is written in fairly straightforward prose, and you just have to translate it in fairly straightforward prose -- not much room for creativity. On the other hand, I've chosen the tanka form (31 syllables: 5-7-5-7-7) for The Doubtful Guest, as I thought the extreme familiarity of the form among Japanese readers corresponds to the extremely standard couplets used in the original.

(Goreyography note: the tanka is the Japanese poetry form formerly known as waka, and has a familiar 5-7-5 mora, or syllable-like sound pattern similar to haiku, followed by two more 7-7 mora verses [or stanza]. Translated into English, the verses become lines. Mora and syllables differ in their vocal chord actions. In English, trance or dance is considered a one-syllable word. From a moraic perspective, they could be 3-mora words: tra or da is one, n is another, and ce might be considered a third. I say ‘might’ because the exact definition of mora is still debated in linguistic circles [2 syllables, 3-moras].)

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2008 Illustrations by Natsuo Ikegami, Edward Gorey Charitable Trust and Goreyography+WZP. 著作権を所有します。