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A Case Study of the English Translators of Japanese Contemporary Novels-Translators of Yasunari Kawabata and Oe Kenzaburo

LEE Hyung-jin 1 Sunhae Hwang 1

1숙명여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to investigate and analyze the critical roles of English translators in the reception and dissemination of the novels of Yasunari Kawabata and Oe Kenzaburo in the United States. The research has found that the first-generation English translators of contemporary Japanese novels came to be in touch with Japanese culture and literature through the personal experience of World War II, and the second-generation translators comprise of mostly American translators who started studying Japanese and Japanese literature in college. Moreover, most of these translators are professors teaching Japanese language and literature in American colleges, which highlights the critical role of the translators of the target culture in the process of reception. The study concludes that various means of introduction and dissemination of Japanese novels by these translators, which aims to bridge Japanese novels and American readers, have critically contributed to the successful reception of Japanese contemporary novels in the North American publication market. These successful efforts include teaching Japanese novels in the classroom, presenting academic papers about Japanese novels and authors, writing newspaper or journal articles about Japanese novels and authors, interviewing these authors for media coverage, etc. which can be accomplished only by these scholar-translators of the target culture. In this sense, translating literature into another language is more than a simple cultural transfer, but inevitably a purposeful cultural strategy.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.