Tuesday, May 17, 2022

More Language

One of the things that attracted me to Haruki Murakami (and has heavily influenced my own writing) is how he puts magical realism into his work.

Magical realism is primarily associated with South America and its writers, particularly Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose 100 Years of Solitude is one of the finest books ever written. Marquez said of magical realism "My most important problem was destroying the line of demarcation from what seems real from what seems fantastic" (thanks for that quote, Wikipedia).

Eli 20.10 has a tutorial this term on Marquez, which means he's reading all of his books in Spanish. He told me last weekend that reading in Spanish gave him an appreciation of how it's impossible to fully capture magical realism in the English language. In Spanish, there is a much more fully-realized vocabulary around the concept, with more nuance. Marquez famously said, "In Mexico, surrealism runs through the streets."

This made me wonder about Japanese and how well it captures the notion of magical realism, and how much is lost in the translation of Murakami's works to English (although the translations are excellent). 

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