Futabatei Shimei (1864-1909) is generally regarded as the father of the modem Japanese novel because of his innovative genbun itchi narrative Ukigumo. He was also a significant pioneer translator of Russian literature. This study traces the development of his translation style through a detailed comparison of each of his translations with their Russian originals. It also seeks to clarify the influence of his translation work upon his three original novels. Futabatei's translations and novels are examined in chronological order and his literary activity is shown to fall into three periods. A key element examined in all the translations is Futabatei's treatment of verb forms, and in particular his translation of past tense Russian verbs of imperfective and perfective aspect. His treatment of these verbs is a key to the evolution of his translation style and to understanding his experimentation with various narrative points of view.
Chapter One examines Futabatei's first published translations Aibiki and Meguriai (from Turgenev's Svidanie and Tri vstrechi) and their influence upon Ukigumo. These three works belong to the first period of Futabatei's literary activity. The repetitive use of "-ta" form verbs to translate the past tense verbs in Turgenev's stories is reflected in the increase in the use of these verb forms in Part Two of Ukigumo. This shift from present to past tense changes the narrative point of view.
Chapter Two focuses on the revised translations of Svidanie and Tri vstrechi which were published eight years after the first versions, ushering in the second period of Futabatei's literary activity, and heralding a major change in Futabatei's translation style. Futabatei now varies
his translation of past tense Russian verbs according to their aspect. While he continues to use "-ta" forms to translate verbs of perfective aspect, he frequently uses "-(r)u" forms to translate verbs of imperfective aspect. This practice is seen to continue for the remainder of his translation career.
Chapter Three examines translations of three first-person narratives by Turgenev which appeared under the titles Katakoi, Yumegatari and Yudaya-jin. In these some further modification is made to the translation of past imperfective verbs. While "-te iru" form verbs are used to translate past imperfective verbs describing the actions of characters other than the narrator-protagonist, verbs describing the narrator's own actions are translated as "-te ita" form verbs in order to support his retrospective point of view. The result is the
creation of two coexisting streams of time.
Chapter Four is devoted to Shoozooga, Futabatei's translation of Gogol's Portret, in which the translation of aspectual forms is handled most effectively. The consistent rendition of past imperfective verbs as "-(r)u" or "-te iru" forms results in a vivid present tense narrative in which "-ta" form verbs express the perfective aspect rather than the past tense. Futabatei creates an account in which the narrator maintains a point of view synchronous with the action. The style is appropriate to convey a sense of Gogol's own narrative style, and shows the path that Ukigumo might have taken.
Chapter Five examines the remaining third-person narratives of Futabatei's second period: Ukikusa and Kusare-en, translations of Turgenev's
Rudin and Petushkov. In these some past imperfective verbs are translated as "-te ita" or "-te ita no de aru" forms, in order to preserve the omniscient, retrospective viewpoint of the originals.
Chapter Six explores the issue of whether the translation style developed during Futabatei's second period was significantly influenced by the style of contemporaries such as Ozaki Kooyoo and Hirotsu Ryuuroo, and concludes that any such influence was of little significance.
Chapters Seven and Eight examine the numerous translations from Gogol, Gorky, Tolstoy and Andreyev which were completed during his third period of literary activity and their relationship to his final two novels Sono omokage and Heibon. Although Futabatei seems to have still been under the strong influence of Gogolian models when he commenced work on Sono
omokage, by the time he wrote Heibon he appears to have returned to a narrative style more akin to Turgenev's.
The conclusion points to the tension in Futabatei's original works between narrative styles modeled on those of Turgenev and Gogol. It suggest that Futabatei's translations from Gogol and Gorky have been undervalued and are worthy of greater attention.