[New book] To Hallow Genji: a tribute to Noh

Prof. Royall Tyler told me about the imminent publication of his new collection of Noh translations just a couple of weeks ago. To Hallow Genji: a tribute to Noh is an interesting Amazon ‘print-on-demand’ independent publication format (does Royall Tyler need an editor at all?) including many rare and bangai plays that fell off the current repertoire of the five Noh schools. Prof. Tyler does not really need any introduction, but for those who are approaching Noh for the first time, I would like to remind that he has published his first Noh translations in the 1970s: his Japanese No Dramas (Penguin, 1993) is an important contribution to the dissemination of Noh in the world – I think it was the first Noh book I’ve ever bought, actually. He is the author of various major essays and translations of Japanese classical literature, including his recent English translation of the Tale of the Heike (Penguin 2012).

From the book’s blurb:

“This tribute to the Noh theater includes eighteen plays and four essays. Among the plays are five non-repertoire that survive in Zeami’s own hand. The eighteen are Genji kuyo, Akoya no matsu, Funabashi, Furu, Genjo, Hakozaki, Higaki, Kuzu, Matsura Sayohime, Naniwa, Nishikigi, Nomori, Saoyama, Tadatsu no Saemon, Togan Boto, Toru, Tsunemasa, and Unoha. The essays are entitled “The Sword of Furu,” “Matsukaze and the Music of the Biwa,” “The Jewel of Shidoji,” and “A Note on the Theme of Wholeness and Rupture.”

I am looking forward to lay my hands on this book. Amazon’s print-on-demand seems like an interesting alternative to the e-book format, which still needs improvement, especially when it comes to books that require columns and other special pagination and formatting.

Notes on translation

20130427-064215.jpgI’m on an airplane, working on my translation of Kiyotsune into Italian. The beauty of the poetry is too much to take and I cannot stop the tears rolling down my face. I do my best not to be too self-indulgent, but… It sometimes happen at okeiko, too, and I think I saw my teacher also crying when we were rehearsing the ji-utai for Tomoe.
Anyways, I just wanted to jot down a brief thought, perhaps a truism. I feel lucky not being a Japanese native speaker because otherwise I would not be able to enjoy bringing Kiyotsune into my native language. All this work of searching, decoding, reflecting, writing, re-writing, changing, making mistakes, correcting them, modelling, adapting…. Translating… What a delight. What a moment of deep transformation and union with the character. Translation can’t be betrayal as long as one accepts that in this life everything is transformed. One thing is thinking it, another is feeling it.