Abstract

Between 2010 and 2019, three novels by Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk appeared in Japanese translation. Against the history of Polish literature in Japanese translation, this article tells the story of the discovery of Tokarczuk by her two translators, Hikaru Ogura and Michiko Tsukada, and describes the reception of Tokarczuk’s work in Japan. The essay then moves on to analyze the work of the translators, arguing that Tsukada bases her approach on the use of a higher literary style and the addition of explanations for the reader. This is contrasted with the method of Ogura, who strives to render Tokarczuk’s rhythm and feel, choosing at times to tame Tokarczuk’s occasionally strong language and to leave some names, like Prawiek, untranslated. This last choice stands in contrast to the decisions made by translators into other languages, who instead chose native-language equivalents. I place this strategy within the context of a trend that can be observed in Japanese literary translation more generally, whereby words considered “untranslatable” are simply left in their original forms.

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