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Research Seminar : "Journeys beyond Translatability in Contemporary Literature in Japanese" (Tim...
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Topic:  Research Seminar : "Journeys beyond Translatability in Contemporary Literature in Japanese" (Time Revised)
posted itemPosted - 22/01/2008 :  09:24:06
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Seminar

Journeys beyond Translatability in Contemporary Literature in Japanese

Presented by

Dr. Dennitza Gabrakova

The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, Japan

Date: 28 Jan 2007, Monday
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm (Revised)
B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU


Murakami Haruki is the most translated contemporary Japanese writer and his works are widely read in English, Chinese, Korean, Russian and many others. In the shadow of Murakami Haruki’s “translatability”, however, there is a variety of attempts emphasizing the inner tension of artistic expression, caused by active exposure of Japanese language to another language. There may be several reasons for the untranslatability of literary works in our era of globalization. In Shimada Masahiko’s case there is a persistent, although not obvious rootedness in the historical and social locality. Levy Hideo, Mizumura Minae and Tawada Yoko in their writings show a multiplicity of aberrations that become the driving force of creation. In his new book Voices beyond the Border the writer Levy Hideo (a writer of western origin writing in Japanese) presents to the reader a series of dialogues with other writers or critics, offering us a new perspective on world literature. This perspective is polyphonic in terms of the number of voices participating in these dialogues and it is also “exophonic” in the interest for contact or exposure to a language different from the writer’s native one. “Exophony”, as a “journey beyond the mother tongue” is a term of Tawada Yoko (a writer who writes both in Japanese and in German) and highly appreciated by Levy as possessing the potential of a new literary theory. In this presentation, I will focus on Tawada’s novel Aruphabetto-no Kizuguchi [Wounds in the Alphabet], where the first-person main character is staying at a remote island translating a book. The novel is extremely interesting, because the techniques of translation and the tension generated by the gap between two languages are merged in an indistinctible manner with the content. It is a novel, whose very content is “translation”. The “journey beyond the mother tongue” here may spatially be linked to her journey to the remote island. The remote island will be further analyzed as a stage for translation with regard to the possibility it offers in fusing repetition and re-creation with a genuinely creative energy.


Dennitza Gabrakova has graduated from Sofia University in Bulgaria, majoring in Japanese studies. She has received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oregon (USA) in Asian Studies, where she undertook a comparative study through the works of Natsume Soseki and Lu Xun. Her Ph.D. degree is from the University of Tokyo, Comparative Literature Department, where she submitted her dissertation dealing with the politics and poetics of "weeds"-imagery in Modern Japan starting from late Meiji period up to the Postwar period. At present, she is working on a research on utopia and works as a research fellow at the University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, Japan

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