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なぜかと言えば、この宿場の猫背の馭者は、まだその日、誰も手をつけない蒸し立ての饅頭に初手をつけるということが、それほどの潔癖から長い年月の間、独身で暮らさねばならなかったという彼のその日その日の、最高の慰めとなっていたのであったから。

May I know if my translation is accurate?

Why is that so? The driver with a hunchback and obsession with cleanliness at the post station has to live alone for a long period of time. Making steamed buns that no one has made before is the best consolation for those days.

May I also know whether その日 in the first line refers to 長い年月の間 and what それほど in the second line refers to?

Thank you.

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The basic structure of the sentence is:

A は B が慰めとなっている。
For A, B serves as a consolation.

  • A is この宿場の猫背の馭者
  • B is まだその日、誰も手をつけない蒸し立ての饅頭に初手をつけるということ
    (This その日 modifies 手をつけない; buns no one has made/eaten that day)

And 慰め is modified by the following three phrases/clauses.

  • それほどの潔癖から長い年月の間、独身で暮らさねばならなかったという彼の
    (長い年月の間 modifies 暮らす. それほどの is an intensifier "such an obsession with cleanness" or "obsession to that degree")
  • その日その日の daily; day-to-day
  • 最高の

I understand this sentence is fairly complex and you have to aggressively rephrase it to translate it naturally. I think your understanding of the sentence is basically okay, but there are two things I'm not certain about:

  • I'm not sure what 手をつける here actually means. (食べ物)に手を付ける usually means "to start to eat", but maybe it can mean "to start to make" or "to work on" depending on the context. Why do people hate 蒸したての饅頭, which is usually delicious? 初手を付ける can also mean either "to be the first to eat it" or "to be the first to make it".
  • Is "cleanliness at the post station" okay? Your translation looks to me as if his workplace and his personal obsession were related. Is that really so?
  • Thank you for answering. Actually I have the greatest problem understanding それほどの潔癖. それほどの潔癖 means obsession to that degree, but what degree is being referred to here? Is that degree related to 誰も手をつけない蒸し立ての饅頭に初手をつける? – Plaka Feb 6 '18 at 4:17
  • 1
    @Plaka I guess それほどの refers to something mentioned before this sentence. I don't see how this 饅頭 espisode can prevent him from marrying :) – naruto Feb 6 '18 at 4:33

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