- Moderne japanische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung: Eine Bibliographie der Jahre 1868-2008, and: Japanische Literatur im Spiegel deutscher Rezensionen
Moderne japanische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung (Modern Japanese Literature in German Translation) and Japanische Literatur im Spiegel deutscher Rezensionen (Japanese Literature as Reflected in German-Language Reviews) provide excellent insight into the types of Japanese literature that have been translated and reviewed in Germany. While the first volume is a bibliography supplying extensive information on modern Japanese literature translated into German, the second lists reviews published in various general-readership periodicals and also presents the full text of these reviews.
Making Japanese literature available to a wider range of German speakers depends, obviously, on translation, since few can access these works directly; although more students are now taking up Japanese studies, a high degree of proficiency is needed to truly be able to enjoy Japanese works in the original. Translations, particularly good ones, can bridge the gap between cultures and make a vital contribution to mutual understanding; they are frequently handled by small publishers, however, and making them better known is therefore of great importance. Both of the books discussed here go a long way towards accomplishing this goal: the bibliography listing all published translations offers a wealth of information to anyone looking specifically for German translations of Japanese literature, while the collection of reviews from newspapers and other periodicals may attract new readers to those translations even as it provides insight into the reception of Japanese literature in Germany up to now. [End Page 400]
Moderne japanische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung is an expanded edition of an earlier work coedited by Jürgen Stalph in 1995.1 The current edition, which was issued in summer 2009, lists all German translations of modern Japanese literature published from 1868 through the end of March 2009, along with detailed information about each work. The entries are arranged alphabetically by author and title, with original titles in Japanese included along with their Hepburn transliterations. For each entry, the volume also provides the author's birth and death dates, the title of the translation, the date of first publication of the original text, the translator's name, the publisher, and the date and place of publication of the translation. The editors further note awards of any of the following literary prizes: the Akutagawa-shō, Naoki-shō, and Tanizaki-shō. The volume also includes a number of highly useful indexes: year of publication of the original Japanese version, year the translation was published (first edition), translations in anthologies and periodicals, names of translators, and "third-language translations"—i.e., renderings that, unfortunately, have not been translated from the Japanese original, but rather from a prior translation (into English, for the most part). I might note in passing that this situation has sometimes led to fundamental misunderstandings of the original. In the case of Murakami Haruki's Kokkyō no minami, taiyō no nishi (1992), for example, published in German under the title Gefährliche Geliebte (Dangerous Mistress; English translation: South of the Border, West of the Sun), a discussion of the translation among the panel of reviewers on the popular German television show "Literarisches Quartett" (Literary Quartet) led to a dispute between the eminent literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki and his colleague Sigrid Löffler over the description of the sex scenes in the work. To some extent, their debate had its roots in problems with the translation from the English version. Astonishingly, these critics did not even consider the issue of possible interference from a third language, nor that the drastic wording they were discussing might not in fact appear in the original.
Even a quick look through the bibliography will attest that a broad array of Japanese works is already available in German—a fact emphasized, too, by the volume's colorful, eye-catching, cover, which...