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It's time for the reader's Allman act with Warren Bauer. Originally broadcast over station WNYC in New York and distributed by national educational radio. The reader's almanac is America's oldest consecutive book program. Here now is Mr. Bauer. I've often remarked on the fortunate circumstance of New York plays host to so many distinguished visitors from all over the world particularly gives this true with regard to artists of all sorts and writers especially since it is not too much to say as we do each week on this program that New York is the book publishing capital at least of this country. The appearance of many foreign authors on this program has given me much gratification. But I think never so much as on this occasion when my guest is the leader of Japanese Japan's post-war generation of novelists Yukio machinima. He is here for the publication of his fourth novel to be published in America but his 13th I understand in Japan it bears the intriguing and beautifully right title The sailor who fell from grace with the sea. And let me
tell you something more about Mr. Machinima before you meet him. He is perhaps even more of the playwright the novelist since he has written 33 plays I read some of which have been performed outside his own country. He has written 74 short stories which sounds like a career in itself to me plus a travel book and many articles to an English war life and for holiday. His publishers assure me that he is by far the most popular novelist in his country. His current novel is assuredly going to make him well-known and widely read here as well. If he is not already I better characterize the novel for you listeners so you can follow our discussion. It is concerned with the conflict between generations. A theme evidently as powerful and true in Japan as it is here. A band of teenage boys of whom one is the protagonist of the story and Abbott have arrogantly set themselves up the judges of the adult world. No one seems to and I don't read
their play acting turns deeply tragically serious when no Barros mother a widow has an affair with a sailor an officer on a freighter. Which is to eventually aid in marriage. But the sailor does not live up to his reputation for toughness with these boys and they must react with violence talk. Grim tale but there is a relief for the reader through its being told what might be called the middle distance at some remove I mean how many great skill and artistry Mr. Machinima has a quiet command of the story at all times which enhances its power. It is a pleasure as one reads to watch him keep the elements of this classic play constructed novel under perfect control to secure the maximum of effect. Well now let me bring Mr. machine on for some talk on this book particularly about his work in general and whatever else we are led into. I need not tell you what I want to Mr. machine as your very heartily welcome in this country.
But this is not the first time you have been here I suppose as a six time visit here and the first time I came here had as 1952 and that you had so elevated try and said I you know I said I thought of that. You came then I suppose as you were coming now in connection with the publication of a book of yours here. That's right. Your first book I'm in America. Yes yes I know I know that there are many bonds between your country and mine. I like to talk about those for just a little bit and I some of them are commercial of course which makes it possible that our getting such things as your precision instruments such as cameras and TV sets. But at the very apex of all exports and imports are works of art too and from any two countries of course there probably never can be too much of that kind of Commerce. I wonder if from your point of view of this cultural exchange and other types of cultural exchange are well-managed
are they as high in priority as they ought to be or could be do you think. Well I think such a sort of contract stands between your kind and my contact is particularly important because it is the last point of the Chuang Chuang all our eggs and everything coming to rest through United States or Japan and that ever sing already and come to your countries through us and through the Pacific Ocean that we can meet each other. It's a sort of the last point of. Just check on how well the Pacific Ocean has become almost a pond in these days of Yeah well of course it is possible to have this cultural exchange and we ought to be extending it a great deal Therefore I wonder if you could tell me what American books get translated into Japanese and so can be in a very
large measure appreciated what American writers are popular with Japanese readers could you say that the Hemingway is the most popular and here was that event and that acceptance and how the big popularity among you even the younger generations but nowadays Norman Mailer has become very popular and is quite idealized and he's considered as a lot of hero and I young I read. Yes and of course many many of you know widely that very that many at times write it. And for guys of course the mind expected and Anyway 10 times about 20 times more your novels are read in Japan and it's on I one of our set I just have to hope we can do something to figure that out yourself.
I wonder who among our writers come to see you. You come very happily to see us. Once I I met Mr. Tennessee Williams in Tokyo and his press has big popularity in Japan and his Streetcar Named Desire had a big success and great glass or so and sometimes I meets American writers in Tokyo strangely and yeah I have an opportunity to see them. Americans concerned with such matters as easily were just been discussing or are often concerned that we have probably sent you however other products of America and perhaps our cheapest products in nearly all senses of that word and that as a result America may have had a Vogue arising effect upon the quality of American of Japanese culture. I wish you would comment briefly on that though I know I've
opened up a very large bag here and in asking such a question we could talk about that for a long long time. Yes before the O.R. employee expense was so low on the labor expenses solo and we produced a very cheap product and export that all of us and Japanese products had a very bad to deportation is cheap it but they bought but after though our industrial As has been to America by DP lofts and there we are now exporting main radio as a television or many watches that are the cause. I think such a sort of industrial products House is becoming to have a good reputation here and no farting cost as costly that it's cheap in the bought product but something I like you know serve in a shop products on time
and how the likes of this so so out of the common lends some sense of Oh God. Yeah because you didn't have a great deal of foreign exchange in the years that you have just been referring to you. You may have had to buy our cheapest products in order to have any exchange at all and that made me one of the reasons why the effect has not been as good as we circulate this country would would have you know. Not American. Well Mr. Machinima thank you for what you've been saying but by common agreement we're here to talk about your just published novel and at least just right here at any rate that's true and just out just published a few days ago. It is undoubtedly not the last publication of yours in Japan when was it published there. It was perhaps a couple of the has it all and I saw a site that you know as takes a very long time to translate from Japanese into English.
Very few translators who count who can reach up and his and who can write good English style and therefore gentry John they so my translator did they get a good job. But to the time of that I know I know Hoft Yes. Anyway I'm sure it would take a long time. That's right too many for many very surprised. I felt that it was a very good job although I have no knowledge whatsoever of Japanese and thus thus can't really give an authoritative opinion but it's a beautifully stylized piece of English writing even if it is very important. Yes. Has he been. Has he been faithful to your style. Would you say in any degree at all. I think so and we had the sever time discussion about translation and he gave me a so I was on the questions at the test of the novel and so as I was so tired of the copyright that it may be have and it gave a good effort to station.
Well that's a fine thing for Seems to me the translator to be able to talk with the author that would help very greatly indeed if this doesn't happen too often I'm sure you know what you mean there from French research I had to show something. If a translator can talk with the author it was written in the original language and ask questions as Mr Nathan did of you. Yes that's a superb thing to be able to do. He's lucky in having someone like yourself who knows English very well. You know I noticed in the copyright page that the Japanese title of this novel when it was published in Japan had three words in it and the American title has nine letters that tell me what that Japanese title meant in English in English it's me it's man's Z often told d o w you know as a port say by tugboat called
Hello yes but dead that I can see that there's nothing good in your style. And they wanted to give a completely new title yes. And I discussed this problem in the game finalize this long title but sound planetoid it's all right I think it's a singularly poetic title and hence it's intriguing and stirring to one's curiosity and so I think it leads to reading and a book by it's a good thing I have to say therefore it's a very good title and I I wanted very much to ask you how you felt about it was it was the original title did you consider it to be a good title in Japanese. Yes it's quite a good title in Japanese because in the Japanese awat at TOLO. Has also and has a meaning which means glory and the toll on me in Japanese it is called a call to give anyone a call.
It sounds sometimes a glory. On the other hand yes. And then so I would simmer arises the story itself. So there's a play on words there in general because I had read this. That's right you know when your listeners are very much more interested in what's in the book and we had better get on to that right away. Of course I've already described the book and when I have said something about its story we hear would interpret the story as a study of youth in some measure of revolt against their elders. And these youngsters among whom is no Borro one of your chief characters are certainly passing judgments on adults acting with horrible precision against them. But different people find different emphases in novels and I would like to ask if this is what the Japanese readers find in this book a revolt against age.
I think my more sort of Japanese reader would think it is fantastic and novel. That I wouldn't think it that it is a story based on the actual extent of which happened the story but on the other hand there. I'm sure I would feel fear about such a prog problem which is becoming very serious even in Japan and we always fear or something. I'm from area something strange to teenage boys I Kora say and in the good old days we always felt about the younger generation. I was def eating just like. Just like we fared at age but not as weak. We never we never be able to have such just such a feeling. Do teenagers. I think it's same phenomenon all over the
road. I want the top Peter such a sort of fear of lead as lead as could be you know. Oh does I'm 25 something nice of you. Well I had a feeling that that's what you've been saying talking about that there is a sort of revolt among the con the world's youth probably and that Japan was sharing it as we certainly are feeling it here but it isn't so clear at least to us against what they are revolting. There's no authority that's a problem and it's in that exact as I always saw it or as the British quality of Vatican already did destroy it and even Japan. Action in Japan particularly after the war. So I just thought of all it said the root value was
completed stride and younger people fears there is no no. Said to him are already or are said to exist anymore but they want to have delivered something or something. Something. Orders on themselves and they have no purpose and no concept about about what. He is they want to divert. That's very stern saying and I want to write about such a boy's cause he says. Such a thought of something incomprehensible and such about such a psychotic and I don't give any conclusion it just suggests yes truly.
You bring up a point there that I want to talk about just a bit. From what I have gathered your youth of college age is certainly far more politically conscious than ours and they take a larger role in political activity. If something happens in the Gov they don't like they get out and demonstrate in a very big way and that doesn't happen very often in this country. So this brings me as I to a particular point about your characters are much younger. So we would expect here you know 13 I think it has the leader of the group maybe a little bit older but not very much I suspect. But this activity is surprising to us because teenage kids of 13 just wouldn't I think do all the things that your children do. And this may make. Some readers in this country perhaps the essential truth of the book and I want to bring that up quite frankly and ask you what you thought about that how do you. Have you some explanation for that you are children of 13 doing
this kind of thing in the country boy is is much and a very quick Kray this very recent phenomenon and maybe this is very new. We became to have nourishing food it must be one physical reason might be and then my child very quick anyway and we have some example I 10 years old a boy committed suicide sometimes maybe by a fence off call metaphysical reasons and I think as Dan's yard boy just enough to you think about the words by that poor not rich but very strong opinion. Yes well that's very interesting indeed and of course it does mark one difference between your you and ours I'm sure there's probably perhaps another explanation maybe. I wonder if it isn't true that adults just don't know what any
teacher agers thinking about it is not not understood by dogs and it's not incomprehensible at all. You know this protest of the of this group of youngsters teenagers in your book is very deep going it seems to me thoroughly though there there's very little there's no disapproval of the affair between mother what was her name sock sock or stock Oh yes I might have to. She was a widow and a sailor from the sea really not the young can often be very conservative too and one would have expected I think that they would disapprove of that relationship but they don't. These members of the group accept it without any question. Well what is their charge against a sailor really it is not the as the Alice stick approach in
my novel and I wanted to symbolize as ironic romanticism and the sail has quite odd fashioned romance in them I guess. It's just like you always summarized our mind which is to preside in Japanese mind and the boy is at the present either a new romance and it is an extra extension or sex romance and the both of them. Different kind of romance and it's a sort of conflict between two types of romance you know and Sarah's Armand's romance and should be destroyed by newcomers and that and boys may be might have same kind of romanticism Sayer as DS and I thought that's very good and very subtly put I must say.
Now the incident of the killing of the kitten is pretty horrifying to read. But it is nevertheless a beautiful way I mean an effective way to establish the lengths to which these boys are going to go. Actually it forecasts what's going to happen to the sailor doesn't it. It's pretty grim but it's right in the structure of the novel. When you reduce the horror make it less horrible but make it by making it seem somewhat remote by the style in which you write. Now is this is this style put on or used for this particular book is it or is it your style in general. I always consider. Mom Nava should have its own style. But of course couldn't have so many various styles. But I always try to give what is right style for this novel and that's an obvious should have its own style and so I wanted to give such a sort of compact concrete style classic style to this novel
which might give some f ECT in the contrast to the horror story and which might make the story itself in the quiet quite a classical tragedy a type of a story. And this does mark some departure from your other books generally speaking. Yes you know I must admit to not having read any of your other books and I shall soon make up that mission on my part. I particularly like to read sound the way it was made into a movie was it not. Yes or twice in general that one. Well it's this control that I speak of which makes this novel I think the sailor who fell from grace with the sea so effective and so artistic in its handling I think this is a remarkable novel in control and what we might say coolness that it that it has.
You could have been much more emotional about it juicy and melodramatic but you kept that under control and I want to I want to congratulate you upon that of fact and thank you very much I'm pretty sure he has because such a passionate and emotional aspect as he presented to buy the characters and it is a sale and we don't. Yes. As Eddie presents such as you've been such a so emotional part of the novel and consequently in light I should delight in that some objective way you know. And this machine my warm thanks to you for coming to the almanac and talking of your novel so interestingly and I want to say again it's particularly good to have you in this country. Now my next guest will be Gladys Schmidt the distinguished author of historical novels whose new one is Electra the reader's Allman AKh is produced by Warren Bauer and is originally broadcast by station WNYC in New York. The programs are made available to this station by national educational radio.
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The reader's almanac
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 69-18-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Chicago: “The reader's almanac; 8,” 1969-05-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
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