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Wild Geese by Ogai Mori

Wild Geese (edition 2009)

by Ogai Mori

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188162,829 (3.87)15
Title:Wild Geese
Authors:Ogai Mori
Info:Tuttle Shokai Inc,Japan (2009), Edition: 2Rev Ed, Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Japanese literature, novella, Tokyo, (2012 reads)

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The Wild Geese by Ogai Mori


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Ōgai is often mentioned as one of the pre-eminent Meiji authors alongside Natsume Sōseki. If that's truly the case then The Wild Geese doesn't do him justice as it's not a patch on Sōseki's best.

Perhaps a lot of this is down to the translation, which isn't the best. For instance, at one point we're told that Otama's father felt that losing his daughter to a scary looking policeman was, "like having her carried off by a monster with a long nose and a red face." That's a very awkward sentence and to anyone in the know (admittedly far from everybody) that quote obviously describes a Tengu. Why the translators didn't just romanise the Japanese word or pick an appropriate substitute like "demon" instead of giving a literal description of a Tengu, I don't know. It seems awfully clumsy and I can't believe that's how it was written originally in the Japanese. There are other minor issues with the translation - such as the way honorifics are denoted - that do grate; but perhaps this is only noticeable to someone more familiar with Japanese culture. Regardless, it would be nice to see a decent translation one day (I know the translation Tuttle use for Botchan is another awful disservice).

The story itself is fine but feels rather lightweight. Little takes place in the novel, which is fine, but it all feels so inconsequential in a way that the minor events of, say, Sōseki's Sanshirō don't. The characters and story take a while to get going and then it ends quite suddenly. The lack of neat resolution may be part of the point but it all feels rather abrupt.

It all left me wondering why Ōgai is thought of in such high regard. Given that few of his works are easily available in translation one would expect what is available to be among his best work; either this translation is very poor or that's simply not the case. ( )
1 vote DRFP | Jan 8, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ogai Moriprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goldstein, SanfordTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochiai, KingoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Published in English under the titles The Wild Geese, The Wild Goose, and Gan.
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