Soseki Translating...

Dan Cuong O’Neill, UC Berkeley
Steve Dodd, SOAS, University of London 
Ken K. Ito, University of Hawaii 
Dennis Washburn, Dartmouth College 
Angela Yiu (Chair), Sophia University

Sōseki Translating the World and the World Translating Sōseki

This panel addresses Sōseki’s diversity in the ways he perceives and delivers the world in its multiple shades of complexities to the reader, and how Sōseki’s work is continuously read, interpreted, and translated for more than a century after its publication. “Translation” refers to various forms of external, textual, visual, intellectual, and cultural phenomena filtered through interpretation and delivered in a new language to the reader. “The world” refers to the actual and textual world reflected and recreated in Sōseki’s fiction and non-fiction, as well as the historical, cultural, and social contexts in which Sōseki has been read and misread. Steve Dodd reads Kokoro as a queer text by using translation theory as a tool to explore whether it is justifiable to create an entire new set of values that may be absent in the original text. Ken Ito explores how Kokoro was incorporated into the Japanese high school curriculum—i.e. how “text” was translated into “textbook”—and the many questions of interpretation that such “translation” engendered. Dennis Washburn examines how Sōseki seeks to translate Western conceptions of artistic sensibility into his aesthetic theory and narrative practice. Angela Yiu explores how Sōseki translates China as utopia in his mind and dystopia in reality in his different works, ranging from Kusamakura and Mankan tokorodokoro. Together these different approaches in reading Sōseki, linked by the theme of translation, examine the diverse interpretations of textual and external reality in Sōseki’s time, and reveal why Sōseki remains new and relevant to us in the 21st century.