1992 年 1993 巻 25 号 p. 25-37
Lafcadio Hearn translated a number of 19th century French literary works into English while he was a journalist in New Orleans in North America. His translations include the works of Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Theophile Gautier and Anatole France among others. He is said to have translated over three hundred works. A large number indeed, and we can begin to understand how enthusiastically he put his energies into translations of French literature while at the same time still working as a journalist. In a sense, Hearn was the pioneer introducer of contemporary French literature, as it was he that first translated and introduced the works of Théophile Gautier, Piere Roti and Anatole France to the American literary scene. Yet when we read today of American literary history, we will rarely come across the name of Lafcadio Hearn as an author, or as having played any important role in the translation and introducing of.19th century French literature. The achievement of Hearn's work in this field should be studied further and properly evaluated within the scope of American literary history. In this paper, I have focussed on this aspect of Hearn's theory and practice of translation of French literature.
Hearn wrote several articles on translation, and one of them, “For the Sum of 25” which appeared in “Times-Democrat” (1882/9/24), helps us most in understanding his ideas on translation. He know how difficult it was to translate a literary work from one language to another, however, he went about it anyway relying on his own sense of words and style and taste for literature. The article, “For the Sum of 25” shows us in detail how literary translation should be carried out according to him, and points out the short-comings of the then current translations of French literature by offering practical examples by other translators.
In order to understand his thoughts and test his methods, I arbitrarily picked up his translation of Guy de Maupassant's work “La Mere Sauvage” and made a study of it from the viewpoint of translation technique and language sense as well as comparing it with the original French text. I also used the contemporary translation (Penguin Books version) done by Roger Colet to compare with that of Lafcadio Hearn. Through this verification process, I could begin to discover his practical techniques of translation and I presume that these techniques might have something to do with his method of creative adaptation of diverse local stories from particular parts of the world including Japan, China, India, Egypt and so on.
For Hearn, the translation of French literature was not just a whimsical pastime or a diversion from his work as a journalist. It was more than a sort of self-disciplined training to improve his own writing and in so doing, create a more sophisticated writing style.