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Haruki Murakami on translation

Mainichi Daily News “ yes, we read ’em all “ has an interview with novelist Haruki Murakami on the recent work he’s done translating some classic American novels into Japanese:

Over the past few years, Murakami has rendered into Japanese four full-length novels “ J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye and Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s “ as they are important novels “I really wanted to translate,” he says.

Murakami worked on these now-published translations from 2003. The novels are not just representative works of their famous authors, but also stories Murakami has read repeatedly since his high school days and, he says, “I personally like them.”

“I’ve always translated Fitzgerald, but otherwise concentrated on contemporary works,” Murakami says, adding there were three reasons why he decided to take on the “classics.”

“I’ve gradually worked out my translation style and thought it was about time I gave them a try myself,” he says, outlining the first of his motives. “And, there’s a use-by date for translations and the old translations have reached that time.”

His final ground for updated translations was that “young people should translate new works by contemporary writers.”

Murakami says the “use-by” date on translations means they have a “50-year limit” of effectiveness because of changing writing styles in Japanese. Murakami says that the flood of works translated into Japanese during a literature boom here in the 1960s are now reaching their “use-by” dates.