Andrew Whitehead - Moonless Moons and a Pretty Girl: Translating Ikkyū Sōjun 53
Andrew Whitehead Moonless Moons and a Pretty Girl: Translating Ikkyū Sōjun I Introduction The term ‘translation’, ironically enough, is a mistranslation. James Heisig notes that ‘Leonardi Bruni (1369–1444) misread a line in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius where traducere meant “introduce, lead into” as “carry- ing over” and hence “translating”. The etymological mistake carried over to French and Italian in the fifteenth century and was simply repeated in English’ (Heisig 2003: 49). Our contemporary understanding of transla- tion is therefore one of ‘carrying over’. In this paper, I will address the dif ficulties encountered when doing a philosophical translation, both in the sense of translating what might be understood as philosophical works, and in the sense of philosophically engaging a text in a foreign language and ‘carrying’ it ‘over’ to one’s native tongue. In the context of some issues that arise from my current research, I will borrow some ideas from the work of James Heisig, which I will then apply to the task of translating a poem by the Zen thinker Ikkyū Sōjun, com- paring my translation to those already published by other translators. While a number of translations of Ikkyū’s work exist, none of these adequately capture the philosophical undercurrents that run throughout his poetry and prose. Without these, translations are unable to ‘carry over’ what the original text aims to convey. Because of this, I believe that Ikkyū’s ideas are, at present, unavailable in English. 54 Andrew Whitehead Ikkyū’s poems...
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