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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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Bells of old Tokyo

 



『追憶の東京』という訳書が出たのを知り、Bells of old Tokyoという原書の方を年末に読みました。


2000年代はじめ、作家は東京タワー近くで鐘の音を聞く。それは江戸時代から人々に時刻を知らせていた鐘だった。その音に導かれるように彼女の巡礼ははじまる。史跡を訪ね、語り部たちと交わる。そのなかで、災禍や戦争、開発により様変わりした街の記憶と、ずっと変わらない日本の心に触れてゆく。日本文化に通じた識者たちから称賛された、外国人作家による日本紀行文の新たな傑作!英国の伝統ある旅行専門書店が主催する“スタンフォード・ドルマン・トラベルブック・オブ・ザ・イヤー賞”最終候補。
アメリカの話ですが、鉄道の安全な運行に不可欠な標準時間が導入される前は各地の時間は様々に設定されていたというエピソードが好きなので、江戸時代の時間意識を知れるかもと思って読んだのですが、まとまった形で考察しているのではなく、江戸時代に時の鐘があった場所を訪れたエピソードを重ねていくものでした。ジャパンタイムズの書評でも同じように語っています。


'The Bells of Old Tokyo': Present-day Tokyo explored through its historical soundscape
BY PATRICK PARR CONTRIBUTING WRITER Aug 10, 2019
A short summary of “Bells” doesn’t do it much justice. It’s a sensitive book, and readers looking for a straightforward ABC plotline may find themselves frustrated. “Bells” is lyrical — a meditative blend of historical research, original interviews and personal experience.
The most delightful part of the book lies in Sherman’s conversations with residents of Tokyo. As she herself admitted, she often felt as hapless as Natsume Soseki’s Botchan when speaking with them about love, time and forgotten history. Still, Sherman was able to coax unique insights from many of her interviewees.

実はこういう本に対しては警戒心が強くなってしまいます。もし安易な東洋と西洋の対立図式を持ち出して説明をしようとしていたらすぐに読むのをやめたくなります。確かにそんな部分はあります。例えば、英語ではI love youというところを日本ではThe moon is beautifulというくだり。

"But, Suzuki said, speaking loudly over the applause, 'we are still less bound by clocks than people in the West. And we don't express ourselves the way you do. You come right out and say, "I love you!" In Japan, we never do that. We might say, "The moon is beautiful," instead. Which means you're seeing the other person in the moon. For us, the individual isn't central to anything. But because we believe that we are one with nature, we say, "The moon changes!" Which means, our feelings are changing, too.


.. Or think about how you consider stillness. Here, because originally you thought that God controlled nature, when everything is quiet, you feel peaceful. In Japan, it's quite the opposite. We feel happiest when there's a commotion, a racket. But when things are still, we get nervous, because quiet means danger. If it's quiet in England, that means your monsters and ghosts are sleeping. But for us, when we hear crickets or birds, we can relax. Our ghosts come out when everything is silent!


でもそんな心配は無用でした。かつて時の鐘があった場所の記憶を出会った人を通して丁寧に掘り起こしてくれていますので、旅行エッセイ的な範疇に止まらない魅力を持っています。WSJの書評から。

‘The Bells of Old Tokyo’ Review: Of Time and the City
An American writer in Tokyo seeks out vestiges of the old city of Edo, especially the bells that kept the hours for the Tokugawa shoguns.
Dec. 30, 2019 7:09 pm ET


Ms. Sherman has a nose for interesting stories, and each district yields its own fascinating slice of Japanese history. In Nihonbashi, the first Bell of Time rang for some 250 years from within the Tokugawa shogunate’s brutal Kodenmacho prison, where tens of thousands of people died between the 1610s, when it was built, through 1876, soon after the last shogun left the city and the jail was moved westward to Ichigaya. The bell is still housed on site in a brick tower built in the 1930s, but what used to ring 12 times a day is now rung only on New Year’s Eve.


*****

This book reminds us repeatedly that Tokyo is no stranger to cataclysms. Ms. Sherman writes of the fires that decimated the city after the 1923 earthquake and the 1945 bombardments. Visiting the Tokyo Air Raid Museum in Kitasuna, she movingly quotes at length from the testimonial of a guide who was 8 years old on the March night in 1945 when more than 700,000 bombs were dropped on the city, killing some 80,000-100,000 people in a devastating conflagration, more than in either Nagasaki or Hiroshima. She also writes of her own guilt over fleeing to Hong Kong for a month after the Fukushima reactors exploded in 2011.


安易な図式のもう一つの罠として過去を美化してしまうことがあります。でも、この本はそのような安易さに陥らず。作者本人も美化することなく、東日本大震災の時に香港に避難した自分を正直に書いていました。民衆らしさが出ていて面白いと思ったところは以下です。アインシュタインの相対性理論が当時ももてはやされたそうですが、「性」という言葉に反応してしまうところが。。。

Whether most Japanese understood his theories or not Einstein was received with adulation. An epic poem was composed to celebrate his equations. Academics wanted to call him Father. And confusion over how to pronounce the word for 'relativity' (sõtai-sei) meant that it was mixed up with  a word for 'sex' (aitai-sei). In the pleasure quarters that year, many versions of the song 'Einstein Aitai-sei Bushi were played over and over again: they were all love songs. "Working out the Aitai-sei theory' meant being in love.


The rapturous reception embarrassed Einstein himself: No living person deserves this. When he left the country six weeks later, there were tears in his eyes.


脱線しますが、政治哲学で出てくる「自然法」という概念もかつて「性法」と訳されることがあったため、そちらの方のやり方を学べると思って授業に出席したいた人がいたという話を大昔大学の先生がしていたのを思い出してしまいました。


一つ一つのエピソードも短く、東京に住んでいる方はイメージもしやすいので読む洋書に迷っていたらオススメしたい本です。


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Yuta

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