||[Apr. 16th, 2005|10:50 am]
I'm not sure I'm ready to read this book, but not for the reasons I originally thought.
Now that I've gotten used to the frightening number of kanji per page... heck, the frightening number of characters per page... I'm moving along at a reasonable pace. It's not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I'm sure it'll have its ups and its downs, and it already has, but I think I can take the difficult parts.
The only problem is the philosophical and historical aspects. One of the biggest failures (in my humble opinion) of language classes is that there's only a few things they teach you. They teach you how to read essays. Most teach you how to read articles. They discuss some amount of current events, and depending on when you take the classes you'll probably get a pretty solid understanding of vocabulary for either school-related things or business-related things. In my studies, I also took classes on scientific/technical writing and a couple of classes on the structure of the language, so I'm familiar with a couple of different writing styles and some of the words used to describe grammar. Unfortunately, I know of no classes which actually teach you geography or history in a foreign language. This is a real failing.
You're left with a half-way understanding of the language with which you can not hold an intelligent discourse. While you can chat about current events as if you understand them, really, you don't have a basis in the language from which you can discuss their causes. And the truth of the matter is, you probably haven't even learned enough relevant geography or history in your native language. While there might be a strict translation for the historical events or places you encounter, it's not like WWII, where I can read the Japanese (dainijisekaitaisen, for the curious) and know what it is. While I can toss out terms like the Meiji Revolution and Aomori, I have very little understanding of what these mean.
These terms are littered through Sohryuuden. I just encountered a reference to the philosopher Souji, as well as a comment on Suikouden and some story about a spy (I think - I hope it wasn't 'dog') who did a service for his lord and married a princess. I just don't understand these references, and I don't know where to start with them. At least I can toss around terms like Mark Twain and Fahrenheit 451 and I know what they mean. If I read them in a book I'll understand. But I haven't read or studied the philosophies of Souji, aside from the one quoted at the start of the Persona games, and I don't know the story of Suikouden.
The place names are driving me nuts, and the references to history and Japanese/Chinese literature are throwing me for a loop. I'm probably going to continue reading, but it's disappointing to know that I'm missing the deeper parts of the story. I just don't share enough of a background with the author.