In an essay by French essayist and publicist Annie Le Brun, she writes: "On the 18th of November 1992 the Serbian army had celebrated its first anniversary of the "liberation of Vukovar". On the speaker's platform, a UN representative heard one of the Serbian officers say that Vukovar rnay be destroyed, but that they will rebuild it. The Serbian officer stated that: "It is important that the air in the city is clean and that we can breathe freely". "After that", wrote Le Brun, "(...) Milorad, whose work The Dictionary of Khazars Le Brun characterised as a mixture of kitsch and folklore) proposed rebuilding baroque Vukovar in the Serbian-Byzantine style....
I adapted, eventually, to Jay Rubin's perfectly good translations, and even to the slightly more whimsical voice of Philip Gabriel, who did the English for Murakami's latest novel, Sputnik Sweetheart. But all along, the Birnbaum passion simmered. So you can imagine how the flame leapt up when I finished the Rubin translation of Norwegian Wood (Murakami's first huge best seller in Japan, published there in 1987 but not brought out in America until 2000) and read a reference in the Translator's Note to "Alfred Birnbaum's earlier translation of Norwegian Wood, which was produced for distribution in Japan ... to enable students to enjoy their favorite author as they struggled with the mysteries of English." We should not, the note enjoined us, try to obtain this bootleg version, for "the present edition is the first English translation that Murakami has authorized for publication outside Japan." Aha!, I thought. So Murakami (or Murakami-plus-Rubin) is indeed running away from Birnbaum, consciously suppressing him, attempting to do away with this shadow self.
Naturally I sought out the bootleg version immediately...
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