Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers Bilingual Edition
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First, I would have to say the notes that accompany the stories in the back of the book definitely elevate this book up from 3, possibly 2, stars. They are the reason why you would choose this book over others that offer similar dual translations, due to them giving you critical insight into the nuances of the language that are not apparent in books that simply give you a side-by-side translation. While there are quite a bit of them, I was always wanting a few more for some trickier passages. However, that could just be my familiarity with the language. What is easy for one person to read and understand will be different than another, so I can see why there is not one for every sentence, and so on.
What is frustrating, however, is that the book is presented in a very poor way to being an effective tool from the get go. The book does not have complete translations of every passage. So you might get to a point where you will be second guessing yourself, since there is no translation for a certain part of the story. Usually, though, the book is good about giving you enough of a chunk of text to piece together the correct meaning. I just feel that the guessing part does not really help anyone learn. A dictionary is included in the back of the book and houses a multitude of words that you will come across. It is a very nice dictionary, but it is awful looking back and forth between the text and the dictionary. The book would be infinitely better putting the definitions on the same page as the text. I had to end up writing down every word I looked up, so I would not have to look back and forth, which was no easy task depending on the page.
One final disappointment I have with the design is that the furigana is placed next to every Kanji the first time it appears. This is an unfortunate choice, because my eyes immediately want to read the furigana instead of the Kanji. At first I thought it was fine, but when you know a good portion of the Kanji, you do not gain anything by having them there, because they serve as a major distraction. All is not lost, though, as I eventually just went over them in pencil--dark enough where I can't easily read them, but light enough that I am still able to if necessary.
One other odd thing about the book is that the second story is probably easier to understand than the first due to the first's use of archaic Japanese. So don't start there if. Just to note, I actually find it harder for me to read fiction than essays in Japanese. So while you might find fiction more exciting, try the essay version of these books first. And if you can find it, get a copy of Janet Asby's Read Real Japanese (2003). It features no furigana, a complete translation of the text, and translation notes, all while being on the same page. It is a superior format, and I wish they kept it for these books. I do, however, recommend this book to everyone who is ready to start reading Japanese literature, but be warned, depending on your ability, this book can take a lot of work to be useful to you. Included are pics showing what it looks like to make the text useful to me.
I was able to slowly make it through the first page of the first story last night; I can tell that this is above my current reading level but very reachable, which is exactly what I wanted. For context: I'm familiar with perhaps 300 kanji, and studied 4 college semester's worth of Japanese; I'd place myself at "intermediate" level.
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In short: contents = excellent; physical product = sub-optimal.
I am likely to go on to the other two books in the series : essays and journalism.
And I am glad that this is a paper book, as I have so many pencil notes in it already !
Je n'en suis qu'à la première nouvelle et ne peux me prononcer sur la progression de la difficulté dans la suite de l'ouvrage.
Je n'aime pas que les kanji ne comportent leurs furigana que la première fois qu'on les rencontre. J'ai un peu l'impression d'avoir affaire à un prof réprobateur qui me dit "Ben alors ?? Tu ne sais pas lire ce kanji ? Je t'ai déjà dit comment prononcer ce mot !!!" Je ne pense pas que les furigana freineraient l'apprentissage, par contre, devoir revenir en arrière gâche le plaisir.....
Il y a, sur la page de gauche en regard du texte japonais, des notes de traduction très utiles (et non la traduction intégrale). Mais je n'aime pas que les commentaires explicatifs (très intéressants, très pédagogiques, très lisibles) soient relégués en fin d'ouvrage. J'aime en particulier la démarche qui consiste à démontrer la signification du texte en la comparant à ce qu'il aurait voulu dire s'il avait été différent.
A noter : l'ouvrage est en anglais.