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In Akutagawa Ryuunosuke's "鼻" there is one sentence which I don't understand:

内供の自尊心は,妻帯というような結果的な事実に左右されるためには、余りにデリケイトに出来ていたのである。

Actually it is only the inner sentence I can't translate satisfactorily:

妻帯というような結果的な事実に左右されるためには

with the "culprit" 結果的な事実. My dictonaries tell me 結果的な can mean "eventual", "matter-of-course", "concerning the result". But how can a reality/fact/truth (事実) be eventual or matter-of-course?

With a lot of stretching of my linguistic abstraction I would probably come up with something like:

"for the sake of being influenced by things such as marriage (and similar) which would result in the fact/reality of getting married",

But still, the use of 結果的な事実 sounds for me slightly illogical or at least like a phrase with an undefined reference and the reader/listener needs to infer that it is indeed referring to the marital affairs.

Very likely, I myself wouldn't have even come up with any understanding of this sentence at all, if I hadn't had the english translation by Giles Murray who translates this part as

... to be influenced by such practical eventualities as marriage.

(Even in English, I have trouble to assign any logical meaning to practical eventualities, though I am not an English native speaker)

Therefore my question: Is 結果的な事実 somehow a fixed term in Japanese? If not, what would be the closest translation to that in English? Thanks a lot!

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    I think everybody had to get married at that time because culturally it was natural to get married at some age being prepared by others. Therefore the event was very likely to happen. It was irrelevant to the self-esteem of the monk. – user25382 Oct 10 '17 at 13:57
  • @kimiTanaka: thanks a lot, your comment was crucial for me to understand the phrase, see my comment below naruto's answer. – Quit007 Oct 11 '17 at 8:11
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First, let's make sure you understand the あまりに construction.

内供の自尊心は、妻帯と云うような結果的な事実に左右されるためには、余りにデリケイトに出来ていたのである。
Naigu's pride was too delicate to be affected by the "妻帯と云うような結果的な事実".

This can be roughly rephrased as:

内供の自尊心はとてもデリケイトだったので、妻帯という結果的な事実には左右されなかった。
Naigu's pride was so delicate, and therefore his pride was not affected by the "妻帯と云うような結果的な事実".

結果的な事実 is not a fixed expression. Here 結果的 is used because "to marry or not to marry" is a mere result of Naigu's job choice, and not the fundamental problem to him. In the story, people in the town rumor that he chose to be a monk because he cannot marry due to his nose (i.e., "being unmarried" is the cause, "being monk" is the result). But Naigu himself thinks "being unmarried" is a simple result, because he chose to be a monk. Perhaps he might have had a (small) chance to get married if he had not become a monk. But such a speculation is not really important to him, in spite of the rumor.

His fundamental source of anxiety is his nose itself, and marriage is only secondary. As long as he has the long nose, even if he married, his pride will not be preserved. I feel "practical eventuality" is a fine translation (although I'm not a native speaker of English, either).

(Note that 事実 in 妻帯というような事実 is not an actual fact in the story. The true fact is that Naigu is an unmarried monk.)

  • Thanks a lot! So, if I take into consideration as @kimi says that getting married was almost inevitable in old Japan, unless becoming a monk, and marriage is therefore a thing which would happen to the layman at some point during his life, then, yes eventuality is probably indeed a good term. Thanks a lot! So for people without context to old japanese "marital way-of-life" the closest translation would be in my eyes thus for 妻帯というような結果的な事実 : the (normally usual/natural) fact of eventually(=at some point in life, whether one wants to or not) getting married. – Quit007 Oct 11 '17 at 8:09

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