This essay is original to "Not a Blog," first appearing on July 20, 2004.

The essay has also been translated into Romanian, thanks to Alexandra Seremina
See Notablog, "Multilingual Appeal," 9 April 2012.

"THE FIRST LANDING OF AYN RAND IN JAPAN!"

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

The Cover Art of Nobuyuki Ohnishi

I have just received copies of the Japanese translation of The Fountainhead, which was published on July 8, 2004. Some years ago, I was approached by Kayoko Fujimori of the Society for the Study of Ayn Rand in Japan. Kayo is also a Professor at Momoyama Gakuin University (alias, St. Andrew's University) in Osaka, Japan.  Kayo had asked me if I would be able to explain certain English idiomatic expressions to facilitate the Japanese translation.  I have no clue if my explanations were helpful (Kayo says they were) and I have no clue what I'm actually reading when I open the gloriously rendered 1000+ page tome.  But I can tell you that Kayo worked very hard on the translation and that the final product looks terrific, with cover illustration taken from an oil painting by Nobuyuki Ohnishi, an artist well-known for his works in that classic form of Japanese animation, anime.  Ohnishi is also famous for drawing and painting the skyscrapers of NYC after 9/11.

Kayo explains that, in Japan, new books are decorated by a wide "belt." The "belt" or "blue skirt" (see above) reproduces a small part of the book, as advertisement.  In this instance, Ayn Rand has been packaged for the distinctly Japanese audience with the following information:  "Ayn Rand is the fountainhead of Libertarianism, a grass-roots American people's philosophy that stands against the Neo-Conservative."  I swear:  I had absolutely nothing to do with that; as Kayo admits, the copy doesn't quite capture the essence of Ayn Rand.  But I'd be the first to say that the Publisher has noted correctly the essential opposition between Rand and neoconservative thought.  Apparently, many Japanese readers are interested in the globalist implications of neoconservatism, so anything that suggests opposition is a selling point.  The advertisement continues: "This novel placed second among the best 100 (English-written) novels of the twentieth century, according to a survey conducted by Random House and Modern Library in 1998.  This novel has sold well since 1943, more than 7 million copies so far!  The first landing of Ayn Rand in Japan!"

Meanwhile, the aspect of this project that has warmed my heart is Kayo's acknowledgment on page 1037 (acknowledgments tend to be published at the end of books in Japan). I have scanned the relevant page here:

Kayo Acknowledges Sciabarra's Assistance

I've been informed that my name, rendered in Japanese, is to the left of the parenthetical English translation, 13 letters including 11sign-like letters and two period-like marks, 4 lines down in the above image. Kayo translates the passage for me:

I must first give thanks to Dr. Chris Matthew Sciabarra. Dr. Sciabarra is one of the best and most productive scholars in the study of Libertarianism and Ayn Rand. His careful comments and thoughtful advice helped me to complete my laborious projectthe translation of this long, great novel, The Fountainhead.  Dr. Sciabarra's great dedication to the first encounter between the Japanese intellectual people and Ayn Rand cannot be overemphasized.

Thank you, Kayo, for all your diligence, conscientiousness, and kindness.

Get your copy of the Japanese Fountainhead by visiting amazon.co.jp.


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