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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Welcome!” Seo Joong, who was wearing a red sweatshirt and pants, greeted him.
The day after meeting with Nam Kyung, Juho visited Seo Joon at his house. As Juho was led inside, the first thing that came into view was the pool table and its unmistakable presence.
Standing next to the pool table, Dong Gil was reading a foreign book written in its original language. Juho read the title of the book out loud.
“‘The Sun Also Rises.'”
Again, the Sun Rises. The Sun Rises Again. There were a number of options for the translation of that title, and they were all from the same sentence.
“Won Yi Young. Of course,” Dong Gil said while holding the Hemingway book in his hand.
Seeing the book in Dong Gil’s hand, Juho would have been able to make a similar comment about him reading Hemingway. As Juho stared intently at the book, Dong Gil handed it over to him quietly. Taking the book from his hand, Juho opened it and felt Hemingway’s distinctly concise style coming alive. Despite being published in 1926, the book was still awe-inspiring in its cleanliness and conciseness.
While Juho was impressed, Seo Joong muttered from behind him, “His books are good and all, but they’re a pain to read. He uses foreign words without even annotating them or anything. Reading his book is just a hassle at times because there are so many things you need to know. Names of regions in Spain, bullfight jargon… the list goes on.”
Hemingway had put a lot of effort into bringing the most out of the characteristics of the regions he wrote about. The foreign words and references to their culture definitely contributed to the sense of realism, but like Seo Joong had said, it was inevitable that it made it more difficult to read from the readers’ point of view.
“That’s why I like his books all the more.”
There were several words that were often associated with the book ‘The Sun Also Rises,’ such as: lost generation, sexual disability, World War 1, or the nurses and bulls.
“Encierro. To confine. To surround. Cattle driving.”
“Are you talking about the San Fermin Festival?”
The San Fermin Festival was a famous festival in Spain that was known worldwide, and ‘Encierro’ was the process of transferring the bulls that were to be used for the bullfight during the festival. Simply put, it was a street bull run. As they reached the farm, the angry bulls and crowd anticipating the festival’s main event came together in harmony, freely expressing their emotions. Because of the violent nature of the festival, there were bound to be those who were injured every year. After being a part of that very festival himself, Hemingway wrote ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ Juho stared at the book in his hands, and there were quite a few descriptions of the bullfight as if it was trying to prove that the author had actually been at the scene.
“Can you read Spanish?”
“Oh, of course. This is nothing. I’m Won Yi Young, after all.”
“Must be nice to be Yun Woo, being able to speak whichever language you want.”
“It sure is nice. That’s how I came to take up that translation gig.”
“… Wait, what?” Seo Joong asked in disbelief. While Dong Gil was also wearing a surprised look, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Seo Joong’s. “So, that’s why you wanted to come over.”
“Yes. I wanted to get some advice from you.”
“Which book? Why? At whose request? Was it the publishing company?” Seo Joong asked frivolously, and furrowing his brows at his friend’s attitude, Dong Gil calmed him down.
Then, he contemplated for a brief moment and went straight to the point and asked, “Whose book are you working on?”
The two authors remained silent. They had to be thinking about Coin’s visit to Korea. As Juho waited patiently, Dong Gil asked, “You didn’t meet him in person, did you?”
“He came to me.”
“Why?” Seo Joong interjected.
“Because he didn’t like me.”
At those words, a serious expression dawned on Seo Joong’s face.
“You know, I was wondering what he came to Korea for when I first heard the news about his visit. So, you’re the reason why he came here, huh? Well, it makes sense considering how his books haven’t been doing as well. I suspected someone as rough around the edges as him wouldn’t sit there and not do anything about his books getting pushed aside, but who would’ve thought he’d actually fly here?” Dong Gil said as he examined Juho from top to bottom.
“Seems like you got out of that meeting in one piece.”
“He wasn’t as scary as the rumors made him out to be.”
“You mean Kelley Coin?”
“Yes. Well, he was pretty stubborn about me translating his books.”
Then, Juho went on to explain that the book he was translating was one of the books in the ‘Kelley Coin Collection.’
“Interesting. He didn’t like you coming in, but he ends up making you translate his book going out.”
With that, Seo Joong began to ask about Kelly Coin, “I’m so jealous that you got to meet him in person, Yun. How was he? Did he really drink his coffee like beer?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Was he high?”
“He quit, apparently.”
“Was he really the size of a bear?”
“Hard to say. How big is a bear, anyway?”
“Stop asking useless things!” Dong Gil interjected as his patience wore thin, then he asked, “Did he really join a gang of pickpockets?”
It was very Dong Gil-like to ask a question like that. Juho gave him a quick summary of the story he had heard from Coin himself, and then moved on to talking about his translation gig.
“So, that’s why I don’t want to mess this up.”
“Understandable,” Dong Gil said, nodding.
“Can you tell me about your experience? What was it like?” Juho asked.
“It was hard, first of all.”
Things weren’t looking so hopeful from the get-go, and Seo Joong giggled as he leaned against the pool table.
“What made it hard? Was it the deadline?”
“That’s just part of everyday life.”
While both Seo Joong and Dong Gil shuddered at the sound of that word, Juho was alone at peace as he had been turning down every single manuscript request.
“Well, there are different aspects to what makes translations so hard. For starters, you have to understand the emotional boundaries of the country and of the language you’re translating to. Otherwise, you’ll find certain things about the culture difficult to understand.”
Juho listened to Dong Gil intently, and as Dong Gil kept on, he lowered his voice all of a sudden when he got to talking about his struggles.
“You’ll have to deal with the perpetual urge to make changes.”
Then, rising from his seat, he candidly went into Seo Joong’s study and brought out a book. As Juho saw the title, ‘World Literature Compilation 007,’ he knew immediately what he was looking at. It was famous enough for Juho to know the name of the book and the author off the top of his head. Along with the name of the author, the name Dong Gil Uhm was inscribed next to it as the translator. Dong Gil Uhm, translator.
“You’re gonna have the urge to change the work of a famous author like this. You know, humans can be so full of themselves. Before they know it, they try to change the sentences to suit their tastes. By the time you realize what you were doing and are just about to fall in shame, that’s when the urge peaks its head out again without warning.”
Juho had an idea of what Dong Gil was telling him. After all, he was an author, and one who sought to write hard-boiled sentences, at that. There was an overwhelming number of flowery words in Juho’s mind, so it wouldn’t be weird if he felt the urge somewhere in his heart to change what he wrote.
“What’s worse is that you do it anyway, despite knowing how much trial and error the author went through in order to write those sentences. You’ll find yourself getting impressed by what you’re reading, wondering about their thought process, all the while your hand is busy trying to make changes. It’s hypocritical, really,” Dong Gil said as he shook the book in his hand, and Juho’s eyes followed its movement.
“Well, as you struggle with that, you’ll be able to meet your deadline before you know it.”
“I’m feeling the urge to drop out, even now.”
‘Maybe I was making light of this gig,’ Juho thought.
“That’s not a bad choice either. Except, not everything about translation is hard and painful,” Doing Gil said. Then, he opened the book in his hand. The entire book was translated by Dong Gil. Once a translator had finished translating, they were gifted with a pleasure that was different from writing a book.
“It’ll be a valuable learning experience for you. You’ll be able to get a lot out of it.”
He was confident in Juho.
“I’ll let you get a taste for it,” Dong Gil said as he flipped through the pages. Soon, he stopped and pointed at a sentence within a paragraph that wasn’t visible from where Juho was.
“I sharpened my sword,” Dong Gil read the sentence out loud.
“What could this sentence mean?”
At Dong Gil’s question, Juho’s mind worked busily for an answer.
“It could mean that the sword was getting too dull, so they had to sharpen it. It could also be about determination to achieve something, or preparing to stab someone. It could even be a ritual of sorts to bring good luck. Maybe it’s a sentence that indicates that the protagonist is a blacksmith, or it’s emphasizing a time in the past when people had to sharpen their swords regularly.”
As Juho thought out loud, Doing Gil raised his hand and stopped him to reveal the answer.
“If you look at the sentence before it, the protagonist was ordered by another character to do something, a character who is not only terrifying and forceful, but also powerful.”
“Sounds like the protagonist doesn’t have much of an option, then.”
“That’s right. The phrase’s meaning was an indication of submission. The sword was the protagonist’s tribute to the character. If the sentence was about the protagonist wanting to get a revenge, I would’ve used stronger words to accentuate the meaning of the original language.”
Like how Dong Gil had described, that was only a small taste of what the translation process was like, and Juho was able to get a deeper understanding of its significance. He realized how sensitive of a dynamic there was between translating and writing, as well as the danger of turning what he was translating into something entirely different from what the author had intended.
Then, Dong Gil closed the book and got to the main point.
“So, first of all, the most basic skill you’re gonna need is to be able to speak the language you’re translating from, but I’m sure that won’t be an issue for you.”
“Right,” Juho said calmly.
“You have enough writing and thinking skills to write a full-length novel. Not to mention your stamina.”
Then, with his eyes fixated on Juho, Dong Gil murmured for a little while and said, “You seem to have all the basic things you need.”
“I think you’ll do fine.”
As Juho gave no answer, Dong Gil added, “Well, it’s probably a good idea to start with something shorter, but my understanding is that you don’t have that kind of time.”
Through his conversation with Dong Gil, Juho came to realize that he had already been doing things that were helpful with translating. If only things were as simple as how Dong Gil had described. As he replayed Dong Gil’s advices in his head one by one, a snappy sound of solid objects colliding rang out of nowhere, and when Juho looked toward the source of the sound, Seo Joong was standing by the pool table with a pool cue in his hand.
“Life is like diverging angles.”
‘What could he mean by that?’
“Are you talking about the angle that’s created as two balls collide? The angle where they separate?”
Then, Seo Joong positioned himself at the pool table, creating a bridge with one hand while lining up his other arm and wrist in a straight line. The cue was completely still, and he steered his right foot outward into an open stance. It was clear from his posture that Seo Joong was faithful to the basics. Leaning slightly forward with his back straight, his knees bent naturally as his face and elbow lined up in the straight line, all the while keeping his eyes fixed on the cue ball. Then, he stroke the center of the ball, and three consecutive strokes followed.
“Shot,” Seo Joong said as he watched the cue ball carefully and then straightening his back.
Creating a fifty-five-degree angle, the red ball vanished into a hole after getting hit by the white cue ball, which stopped in its tracks. It was the diverging angle.
“Theoretically, you should always get a ninety-degree angle,” Seo Joong said as he picked a ball in each hand. Although they were different in color, every single ball was uniform in their weight and resilience. Therefore, regardless of how the balls collided, it would be mathematically sound to assume that they spread at ninety-degree angles.
“Although, that’s a different story in real life. Close, far, gentle, forceful. There are always variables, and you have to make your decisions accordingly.”
In other words, as soon as he began translating, Juho was on his own no matter how much advice he had received.
“You’re already used to it though.”
Seo Joong and Dong Gil had already been treating Juho as a colleague, and all creative choices like direction, characters, and plot were up to the author. Juho was well aware of that fact.
“This is it, the actual battle,” Juho said quietly, and both Dong Gil and Seo Joong agreed, saying, “‘Pay close attention to how your sentences are flowing. Don’t let your guard down. Understand your characters. These advices don’t apply to you, you know?”
“Well, I would’ve done it even without the advice.”
“Of course. You’re THE Yun Woo himself.”
With that, Seo Joong took another shot, and that time, the balls dispersed at a thirty-five-degree angle.
“Why don’t we play a round of pool while you’re here? You know how to play, right?”
“Nope. I want to get as much advice as possible during my visit.”
Then, Juho left Seo Joong alone and went on to converse with Dong Gil, and right before he was about to leave, he ended up holding a pool cue in his hand at Seo Joong’s suggestion.
“Go easy on me.”
“Not a chance. I’m a believer in fairness. Your age won’t work to your advantage here.”
Though Juho hadn’t played in a long time, he was able to put his old skills to use and stood victorious over Seo Joong.
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