Mountain Climbing

With the goal of stirring up even more interest in Murakami between now and mid-October, when the Nobel Prizes are announced, I will post a small piece of Murakami translation once a week from now until the announcement. You can see the other entries in this year’s series here: Jurassic Sapporo, Gerry Mulligan, All Growns Up, Dance.

One more post this year, just a quick one due to schedule challenges at Morales Headquarters.

We fast-forward a few chapters. Boku has been hanging out in the hotel, still longing for connection with someone, so he sort of tortures Yumiyoshi a bit. After one incident where he bothers her at the front desk, she calls him in his room to chastise him.

“It’s very upsetting. I told you that. When I’m on duty, I get tense. So please, don’t do anything like that again. You promised not to stare too.”

“I wasn’t staring. I was just trying to talk to you.”

“Well, then, from now on, no more talking like that. Please.”

“I promise, I promise. No talking. No staring and no talking. I’ll be quiet as granite. But you know, while I’ve got you on the line, are you free this evening? Or do you have mountain-climbing lessons tonight?”

There was the sound of a dry laugh, half of it silence, and then she hung up.” (99)

Boku here is poking fun at Yumiyoshi’s “swim club” (in Japanese スイミング・スクール), which previously prevented her from going on another date. In Japanese, this has just a minor cut:








彼女は壁に書かれた字を読みあげるみたいに乾いた平板な声ではははと言った。そして電話を切った。 (150)

I’ll go ahead and translate the whole thing even though Birnbaum includes almost everything (much more successfully than I do). The cut comes close to the end:

“I get nervous. Didn’t I already tell you? I’m always really nervous while I’m working. So I don’t want anyone bothering me. And you promised that you wouldn’t stare either.”

“I wasn’t staring. I just tried talking to you.”

“Well, don’t talk to me like that again. Please.”

“I promise. I won’t talk to you. Won’t stare or talk to you. I’ll be as still and quiet as granite. So, anyway, are you free tonight? Or do you have your mountain-climbing class tonight?”

“Mountain climbing class?” she said and sighed. “That’s a joke, right?”

“Yeah, it’s a joke.”

“Sometimes I don’t get jokes like that. *Mountain climbing* class. Ha. Ha. Ha.” She laughed dryly like she was reading each Ha off a board on the wall where they were written. Then she hung up.

This is a typical Birnbaum cut. He’s going for speed and humor and, in doing so, he uses a translation sandpaper of a courser grit, knocking off the edges here and there. Both his and Murakami’s version help characterize Yumiyoshi, but they do so in different ways. Murakami reveals her naiveté and her sense of humor, whereas Birnbaum cuts to the chase, creating a kind of snarkier version.

I’d be interested to track this throughout the whole book and see how the balance works out. Sadly, though, the Nobel Prize announcement is this Thursday, so it’ll have to wait until next year! Unless this is the year he wins. He’s getting 2/1 odds right now, which is the highest he’s ever been. See y’all at the announcement!

And on a side note, I’ve been using asterisks to symbolize italics within my block quotes because I’m still trying to work out the CSS of my new theme. (The standard setting has all blockquote text in italics, which was clearly programmed by someone who is a computer science major and not a liberal arts major. I managed to prevent that from happening but the result is that I am unable to italicize anything.) The Japanese is, of course, 傍点, which I’m still not sure can be accomplished in CSS…anyone know? It’s difficult to tell, but I bolded the original Japanese.