Day: November 1, 2019

Locked Room Stories I’m Reading: Edogawa Rampo “The Stalker in the Attic”, 1925 (Trans: Seth Jacobowitz)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Edogawa Rampo’s “The Stalker in the Attic”. English language version of “Yaneura no Sanposha”, originally published in the August, 1925, issue of Shin-Seinen, was made available to the English language reader for the first time in The Edogawa Rampo Reader edited and translated by Seth Jacobowitz (Kurodahan Press, 2008) ISBN: 978-4-902075-57-1. “The story is an inverted locked room mystery and remarkably modern in its subject matter (TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time).”

j0020Book Description: Edogawa Rampo (pseudonym of Hirai Tarō, 1894-1965) is the acknowledged grand master of Japan’s golden age of crime and mystery fiction. He is also a major writer in the tradition of Japanese Modernism, and exerts a massive influence on the popular and literary culture of today’s Japan. The Edogawa Rampo Reader presents a selection of outstanding examples of his short fiction, and a selection of his non-fiction prose. Together, they present a full and accurate picture of Rampo as a major contributor to the Japanese literary scene, helping to clarify his achievements to the English-speaking world. All the content of the Rampo Reader is brand-new to English. His non-fiction work has never been translated into English before. This is the only place to find a comprehensive one-volume introduction to the world of Edogawa Rampo. (Source: Kurodahan Press)

My Take: I’m grateful to TomCat @ Beneath the Stains of Time for having suggested me to read this superb short story by Edogawa Rampo. By the way, I’m sure you will enjoy reading his blog, if you haven’t get acquainted with it yet. You may access here his review to Edogawa Rampo’s “The Stalker in the Attic”. This short story is one of the six included in The Edogawa Rampo Reader. I’ve not read yet the other short stories included in this volume even though I look forward to reading it soon, and very specifically his essays.  

The story is mainly set in a newly constructed boarding house where Goda Saburo, a young man who literally does nothing at all in life, has just installed himself after frequent changes of domicile. Goda, incapable to sense interest towards something, drags his existence in a perennial state of boredom. It happens that one day he finds out he can access an unused attic that spreads all over the house, through a large built-in wardrobe in his room. Thus he discovers a morbid diversion: to peep on the rest of the residents. Next, for the simple pleasure of experiencing what can be felt, he begins toying with the idea of murdering someone, without any possibility of being discovered. He finds his target in a young fellow by the name of Enzo for whom he feels no sympathy whatsoever. His opportunity arises when he observes Enzo sleeping with his mouth wide open. And he comes up with a fiendish plan to carry out his objective, making it pass as if it was a suicide. But when carrying it out, a minor detail will arouse the suspicions of detective Akechi Kogoro.

With mastery and dexterity, Edogawa Rampo gives us this small gem. A superb short story that deserves a much greater recognition in my view. I have very much enjoyed it and it has seemed to me extremely well-written if I may say so, though I don’t know the extent to which can the translation by Seth Jacobowitz claim some of the merit. In any case I strongly recommend it.

My Rating: If ever I’m tempted to make a list with my 10 favourite short stories there’s a high probability that I will include in that list Edogawa Rampo’s “The Stalker in the Attic”.

About the Author: Edogawa Rampo (pseudonym of Hirai Tarō, 1894–1965), also romanized as Edogawa Ranpo, is the acknowledged grand master of Japan’s golden age of crime and mystery fiction. In the early part of his career, he created the Japanese gothic mystery, developing the work of Edgar Allan Poe and related nineteenth century writers in a distinctly Japanese form. This part of his career coincided with a great flowering in Japanese literature and culture, a relatively free and uninhibited popular press being a defining feature of the times. In this context, Rampo’s dark vision and extravagant grotesquery found an avid readership, and had a profound influence on other writers. Public morals tightened in the years leading up to Japan’s Asian and Pacific wars, and censorship was tight in the war years. Rampo’s early work fell out of favor, and he turned to adventure stories with detective characters in leading roles. After the war, he concentrated on stories for young readers, and on developing the Japan Association of Mystery Writers. The Edogawa Rampo Prize, originally endowed by Rampo himself, is awarded annually to the finest work of the year in the mystery genre. It is the most important prize of its type in Japan. Edogawa Rampo — whose name is meant to be read as a punning reference to ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ — remains popular and influential in Japan. His work remains in print, in various different editions, and his stories provide the background for a steady stream of film, television, and theatrical adaptations. (Source: Kurodahan Press)

About the Translator: Seth Jacobowitz is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University, specializing in Japanese literature and visual culture. He received his B.A. in English literature from Columbia University, and his M.A. in Asian Studies and Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University. He was a Fulbright Fellow to Nagoya University, a Japan Foundation Fellow at Waseda University, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. (Source: Kurodahan Press)

Kurodahan Press publicity page 

All about Rampo: A guide to the pioneer writer of Japanese detective fiction – Edogawa Rampo

Historias de misterios de cuarto cerrado que estoy leyendo: Edogawa Rampo “The Stalker in the Attic”, 1925 (Trans: Seth Jacobowitz)

Descripción del libro: Edogawa Rampo (seudónimo de Hirai Tarō, 1894-1965) es el gran maestro siempre reconocido de la edad de oro de la novela policiaca y de misterio de Japón. También es un escritor importante en la tradición del modernismo japonés, y ejerce una influencia masiva en la cultura popular y literaria del Japón actual. The Edogawa Rampo Reader presenta una selección de ejemplos sobresalientes de sus relatos breves y una selección de sus ensayos. Juntos, nos ofrecen una imagen completa y precisa de Rampo como uno de los principales contribuyentes a la escena literaria japonesa, ayudando a aclarar sus logros al mundo de habla inglesa. Todo el contenido de Rampo Reader no ha estado antes dissponible en inglés. Sus obras no literarias nunca habian sido traducidas anteriormente al inglés. Este es el único sitio en donde poder encontrar una introducción completa en un solo volumen al universo de Edogawa Rampo. (Fuente: Kurodahan Press)

Mi opinión: Le estoy agradecido a TomCat @ Beneath the Stains of Time por haberme sugerido que lea este magnífico relato breve de Edogawa Rampo. Por cierto, estoy seguro de que disfrutará leyendo su blog, si aún no lo conoce. Puede acceder aquí a su reseña de “The Stalker in the Attic” de Edogawa Rampo. Este cuento es uno de los seis incluidos en The Edogawa Rampo Reader. Todavía no he leído el resto de los relatos incluidos en este volumen, aunque espero leerlos pronto, y muy específicamente sus ensayos.

La historia se desarrolla principalmente en una casa de huéspedes de nueva construcción donde Goda Saburo, un joven que literalmente no hace nada en la vida, acaba de instalarse después de frecuentes cambios de domicilio. Goda, incapaz de sentir interés por algo, arrastra su existencia en un estado de aburrimiento perenne. Sucede que un día descubre que puede acceder a un ático no utilizado que se extiende por toda la casa, a través de un gran armario empotrado en su habitación. Así descubre una diversión mórbida: espiar al resto de los residentes. Luego, por el simple placer de experimentar lo que se puede sentir, comienza a jugar con la idea de asesinar a alguien, sin ninguna posibilidad de ser descubierto. Encuentra su objetivo en un joven llamado Enzo, por quien no siente simpatía alguna. Su oportunidad surge cuando observa a Enzo durmiendo con la boca abierta. Y se le ocurre un plan diabólico para llevar a cabo su objetivo, haciéndolo pasar como si fuera un suicidio. Pero al llevarlo a cabo, un pequeño detalle despertará las sospechas del detective Akechi Kogoro.

Con maestría y destreza, Edogawa Rampo nos regala esta pequeña joya. Un excelente relato breve, que merece un reconocimiento mucho mayor en mi opinión. Lo he disfrutado mucho y me ha parecido extremadamente bien escrito si puedo decirlo, aunque no sé hasta qué punto puede la traducción de Seth Jacobowitz reclamar parte del mérito. En cualquier caso lo recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi valoración: Si alguna vez tengo la tentación de hacer una lista con mis 10 relatos breves, hay una gran probabilidad de que incluya en esa lista “The Stalker in the Attic” de Edogawa Rampo.

Sobre el autor: Edogawa Rampo (1894-1965) está considerado por la mayoría como el padre de la narrativa japonesa de misterio, el maestro del terror, la novela detectivesca, la fantasía y lo macabro. Nacido en la prefectura de Mie, se graduó en la Universidad de Waseda en 1916 y desempeño trabajos muy dispares como contable, administrativo, comerciante y vendedor ambulante, antes de descubrir su vocación de escritor. Ha sido el primer narrador moderno de misterio japonés y durante mucho tiempo presidente del Club de Escritores de Misterio de Japón. Su fecunda obra ha contribuido a que saliera a la superficie el magma de obsesiones, horrores y ambigüedades latente en la sociedad nipona. Admirador incondicional de Edgar Allan Poe, lo imitó con originalidad y adoptó su nombre artístico de la pronunciación japonesa del nombre del autor inglés, por cuya obra quedó hechizado desde los inicios de su carrera. (Fuente: Babelio)