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Why Haruki Murakami Translated ‘The Great Gatsby’

The great Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami once translated The Great Gatsby for Japanese readers. In Columbia University Press’ In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means anthology, you can read an essay he wrote about translating the book.

We’ve embedded the complete essay below. Murakami expressed his love for the novel, but also gave readers a peek into how he used his “imaginative powers as a novelist into play.” Just in time for the upcoming movie adaptation, read his thoughts about F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel. Here is an excerpt:

When someone asks, “Which three books have meant the most to you?” I can answer without having to think: The Great GatsbyFyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. All three have been indispensable to me (both as a reader and as a writer); yet if I were forced to select only one, I would unhesitatingly choose Gatsby. Had it not been for Fitzgerald’s novel, I would not be writing the kind of literature I am today (indeed, it is possible that I would not be writing at all, although that is neither here nor there) … Though slender in size for a full-length work, it served as a standard and a fixed point, an axis around which I was able to organize the many coordinates that make up the world of the novel.

Haruki Murakami on "The Great Gatsby"

 

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