Wednesday, April 02, 2008
(1:42 AM) | Amish Lovelock:
Become the thing that you are! ...you know, right now! that thing!I've been looking around for a decent Japanese translation of Nietzsche's famous "Wie man wird, was man ist" as I want to use it as an epigraph. The problem is that none of the 8 different Japanese translations of Ecce Homo I've consulted sounds right. The current English versions are:
"How you become what you are" (Oxford)
"How one becomes what one is" (Penguin)
The second being much better (and far less Alain de Botton) than the first.
The first Japanese translation I've found is an Iwanami paperback dating from 1928; translation by the liberal philosopher (and a defendent at the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial) Abe Yoshishige.
（direct translation: In what way do people become that thing in the/ir original/essential place)
= The Japanese here is perhaps the most elegant of all the translations but I don't like the use of 「本来」（honrai = lit. root-come/coming from root) meaning original, essential, natural or proper. The German "ist" is just "ist" and honrai seems to introduce an element of time that is superflous. It is not a matter of becoming what you used to be.
The next translation from 1942 is just bizarre. It comes from Sogensha's Nietzsche selection.
(Things that are/be and ways/roads that are/be)
The translator, German literature professor Abe Rokuro, seems to have given up and provided a completely different subtitle of his own choosing. His translation was revised and published again in from Shincho in 1950, this time with the German original and no translation.
Next is from 1960.
(In what way do people become themselves)
Up until the subject marker 「は」this is the same as Abe Yoshishige's translation minus the Chinese characters. But then we get "themselves"... Better than the notion of an original but no "ist" again; no Being.
A more recent translation by Nietzsche scholar and right-wing historical revisionist Nishio Kanji inherits this "themselves" and goes as follows:
(lit. People/in what way/themselves become)
The "wie" and the "wird" placed after the "man" then.
The most recent translation is from 1994 and revives a lot of the 1928 version while keeping the "self".
(lit. People/in what way/themselves/that thing in the/ir original/essential place/become)
Unhappy with all of these I've tried to translate it myself but there is no decent way of getting "was man ist" into Japanese without having to go into lengthy explanations saying things like "to be the thing that you are. you know, the thing that you are right now, that thing". I've thus decided to stick to the German even though this does pose a problem of consistency as the other epigraph I want is from English and has a good translation...