Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shunshoku Umegoyomi Vol. 1: The Husband's Illness

Last time we found out about Tanjirou's financial difficulties, but poverty is not his only problem:
On top of that, as of recently he had been lying on a sickbed (fig. 1), his body in the control of destiny, in 
seemingly indescribable discomfort (fig. 2).
Fig. 2: 不自由いわん方もなき容体もときの吉不祥。 Fig. 1: 其うへに。
The verb at the end of fig. 1 is written with kanji as 「付す」 ("to lie down"), and is in the continuative form (連用形) because it is linked to the next sentence, despite the presence of a full stop. As pointed out in this comment, the full stop acts more like a comma in works of this period.

「いわん」 can be parsed as the imperfective form of 「言ふ」 ("to say") followed by 「ん」, the sound-shifted form of the speculatory verb 「む」, in the attributive form (連体形). The only issue is the meaning of 「む」 in this context, as it has several possible meanings, according to my textbook. I interpreted it as circumlocution (婉曲), which is the source of the word "seemingly" in the translation.

As a whole, 「いわん方もなき」 is a set phrase, as explained by Matt in the comments below and on Wiktionary.

I translated 「ときの吉不祥」 as "destiny" because I read it literally as the "good (吉) and bad luck (不祥) of time (時). Any suggestions here would be appreciated.

Fig. 3: いとゞ寒けき朝嵐。
身にしみ ゞゝとかこち顔。
What's more, the cold morning storm thoroughly penetrated his body, his face bitter (fig. 3).
Note the use of kana repetition marks here - they are not so common in modern Japanese, particularly the second one, which is used to represent the repetition of two kana in a row, with the second iteration of the first kana being voiced, a morphophonological phenomenon known as rendaku.

The word 「寒けき」 ("cold"), consists of the "ku" adjective 「寒けし」 in the attributive form (連体形), as it modifies the following noun 「朝嵐」 ("morning storm").

「かこち顔」 (written with kanji as 「託ち顔」) is a phrase that means 「恨めしそうな顔つき」 ("a bitter countenance"). The use of this word is a little puzzling to me, as it contrasts Tamenaga's previous description of Tanjirou, which was clearly intended to elicit sympathy from the reader. Perhaps the connotation behind 「託ち顔」 in classical Japanese is not the same as that behind "a bitter countenance" in modern English.


  1. "言わん方もない" is actually a sort of set phrase, it kind of means "indescribably X", "so X that words don't do it justice", that sort of thing. 吉不祥 is in the dictionary, I think you got it fine: good and bad luck. He's at the mercy of fate, living from moment to moment. (A bit dramatic, but it is a ninjobon after all.)

    Re 託ち顔, you got me. I think it just means that he's sort of cursing his fate/the world generally as he lies there bitterly cold in the storm and all. (I don't think the storm is actually penetrating his face there, just his body.)

    1. > 吉不祥 is in the dictionary

      Out of curiosity, which dictionary are you using? I couldn't find this in any of the online J-J ones, the digital version of Kenkyuusha, nor in my paper 古文 dictionary.