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I encountered a seemingly ambiguous sentence when reading the novel 「風立ちぬ」 by 堀辰雄 as below:

お前の父や、それからまたそういう父をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、素直に身を任せ切っているのではないだろうか?

My first impression was that the author was counting 「そういう父」 as part of 「お前のすべて」. Then I referred to several Chinese editions of the novel and found that all the translators interpreted 「そういう父」 as part of 「お前のすべてを絶えず支配しているもの」.

Which interpretation sounds more appropriate to you? And, is this sentence really ambiguous?

  • 後者です :) ------- – Chocolate Apr 10 '16 at 7:23
  • Am I wrong to think that all of 「そういう」「 父をも数に入れた 」 「 お前のすべてを絶えず支配している 」 modify 「もの」...? Like, ”[those] things [of which your father is one] [that control everything you are all the time]”? うーむ、頭が麻痺しそう... – goldbrick Apr 10 '16 at 8:24
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Technically it could be ambiguous, but I don't feel any ambiguity from that sentence. Without context elsewhere, it seems to be natural to be read that そういう父 is a …支配するもの.

In my opinion, it's like そういう has a great effect on interpretation. そういう means "that kind of" or "like that", so regardless of what そういう modifies, it expects a target of reference that explains "what kind" it is. In naive reading, we can find お前のすべてを絶えず支配している is the most suitable applicant for it. Of course, in cultural background, 父 is likely to control their children, that counts in to a certain degree.

I made a simple comparison between slightly modified versions of the sentence, with my personal feelings how they should be parsed. Take it just for reference since I'm not sure if everyone agrees with me.

(A means the word belongs to お前のすべて, B means it's a …を支配するもの, ? is ambiguous)

お前の父や、それからまたそういう父をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → B
お前の父や、そういう父をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → B
お前の父や、それからまた父をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → ?

お前の恋人や、それからまたそういう恋人をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → B
お前の恋人や、そういう恋人をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → B
お前の恋人や、それからまた恋人をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 A

お前の息子や、それからまたそういう息子をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → ?
お前の息子や、そういう息子をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → ?
お前の息子や、それからまた息子をも数に入れたお前のすべてを絶えず支配しているものに、 → A

If you want them to be unambiguous, each has its own ways to reword. It seems that the writer thought it wouldn't be ambiguous in this case.

  • why does replacing 父 with 恋人 lead to (A)? In sentences (3) and (6) – strawberry jam Apr 10 '16 at 20:27
  • @strawberryjam I feel that 恋人 would be significantly more natural to be "an example of a part of yourself" than "an example of what controls you", but it's all about word connotations and I don't think every speaker would agree with me, as said above. – broccoli forest Apr 13 '16 at 4:00
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Without knowing the preceding part of the sentence you gave, here’s my literal translation of your snippet;

“Aren’t you resting yourself innocently on your father and something that is ruling over everything of your being, including your father who lived like that?”

“そういう父” literally means “the father like that” “or “the father of that kind” in English, and is very vague in meaning, because the author doesn’t explain anything about what kind of father “her father” was in this specific line.

It’s really ambiguous. However from the context of the given quote, I understand “そういう父” “turns out” to be a part of “お前のすべてを絶えず支配しているもの”, universe or something that rules over everything of yourself, your being.

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