Literature of Medieval Japan

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Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:57 am

kugepoet

Predating the geisha by a few hundred years, but I've enjoyed reading these, so I figured I'd post a quick list of some things that might be of interest to those of you who might wish to explore:

DIARIES:

Morris, Ivan (translator). The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. Penguin USA, Reprint edition, 1989, ISBN 0140442820.

Sei is probably my favorite. Her diary isn't strictly chronological - it includes little observations of her favorite time of day or lists of things she likes or dislikes, along with anecdotes of who was doing what at court on a certain occasion. Chatty, catty, very readable. I often ask myself, "What Would Sei Shonagon Do?" then stop myself because it would be bitchy....

Bowring, Richard (translator). The Diary of Lady Murasaki. Penguin USA, 1999, ISBN 014043576X

Morris, Ivan (translator). As I Crossed A Bridge of Dreams. Penguin USA, Reprint edition, 1989, ISBN 0140442820.

Whitehouse, Wilfred and Yanagisawa, Eizo (translators). Lady Nijo’s Own Story: The Candid Diary of a 13th Century Japanese Imperial Court Concubine Charles E Tuttle Co., June 1974, ASIN 0804811172
This one follows Nijo from about age 13 through old age as attendant and lover of retired Emperor Go Fusakusa.

LITERATURE:

Tyler, Royall (translator). The Tale of Genji. Penguin Books Ltd; 2002, ASIN 0713992379 (hardcover) and Penguin USA, 2002, ISBN 014243714X (paperback). This unabridged edition is the most recent English translation available. It is copiously annotated and illustrated and I think it's probably the most accurate in trying to capture the language of the original. It's also huge! The hardcover edition is slipcased and comes in two massive volumes.

If you're not sure you want to commit to the complete Genji, here's a decent abridged edition that will give you the general flavor quite nicely:
Seidensticker, Edward (translator). The Tale of Genji (abridged). Vintage; Reprint edition, 1990, ISBN 0679729534

Reichhold, Jane and Kawamura, Hatsue (editors). A String of Flowers, Untied: Love Poems From The Tale of Genji. Stone Bridge Press, 2002, ISBN 1880656620
As the title says, poems from the novel. Over 800 of them.

McCullough, Helen Craig (translator). The Tale of the Heike. Stanford University Press, 1988, ISBN 0804718032
This one is an epic and episodic retelling of the Genpei Wars at the end of the 12th century.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:01 am

Musashi

I can recommend McCollough's translation of the Heiki Monogatari.

There's a second quite good version of it though.

Yoshikawa Eiji - The Heike Story, Tuttle Publishing, August 2002, ISBN: 0804833184

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:49 am

bebemochi

As far as diaries go, there's also <u>The Gossamer Years</u>, by Edward Seidensticker (Translator). The diary is more partial than Sei Shonagon's, and the lady more whiny and wishy-washy, but it's a good read nonetheless. But don't read it in winter--it's depressing. :P

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:50 am

Hoshi

bebemochi wrote:
As far as diaries go, there's also <u>The Gossamer Years</u>, by Edward Seidensticker (Translator). The diary is more partial than Sei Shonagon's, and the lady more whiny and wishy-washy, but it's a good read nonetheless. But don't read it in winter--it's depressing. :P


Aw, you beat me to it! I was going to mention The Gossamer Years :D And you're so dead on with the narrator being wishy-washy and whiny, especially when she starts dissing her own son for not being able to pick up any girls!

I personally disliked Tale of Genji. I read Seidensticker's abridged translation of it (mentioned by kugepoet) a few years ago, and I just got so turned off and offended by how Mr. Fancy Pants Shining Prince Genji was loved and adored for everything frickin' thing he did, even if it included bedding with a prepubescent or accidentally killing a woman during sex. And his court members were always weeping over him after Genji would write some poetry or comb his hair or breathe. Friggin' sycophants. :angerburst

I remember my sensei not being very happy with me after I wrote a pretty scathing review of Genji for class. She said I didn't appreciate the literature, and it's not that I didn't enjoy the writing--I just couldn't stand the womanizing main character. It was a nicely written book of Heian smut.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:51 am

bebemochi

Hoshi wrote:
Aw, you beat me to it! I was going to mention The Gossamer Years :D And you're so dead on with the narrator being wishy-washy and whiny, especially when she starts dissing her own son for not being able to pick up any girls!


Haha, I know! Sometimes when I was reading it, I was thinking, "God, just shut up already!" ...except I kept reading it, and now I may go back and read it again. :oops:

Hoshi wrote:
I personally disliked Tale of Genji. I read Seidensticker's abridged translation of it (mentioned by kugepoet) a few years ago, and I just got so turned off and offended by how Mr. Fancy Pants Shining Prince Genji was loved and adored for everything frickin' thing he did, even if it included bedding with a prepubescent or accidentally killing a woman during sex. And his court members were always weeping over him after Genji would write some poetry or comb his hair or breathe. Friggin' sycophants. :angerburst

I remember my sensei not being very happy with me after I wrote a pretty scathing review of Genji for class. She said I didn't appreciate the literature, and it's not that I didn't enjoy the writing--I just couldn't stand the womanizing main character. It was a nicely written book of Heian smut.


Omg, I thought I was the only one who felt that way. Genji's slutty behavior always turned me off, too. I found myself really disliking him and pitying the women. I understand that it was a different time period with different ideas about sex and marriage, so maybe it's just that I don't understand the social dynamics because I'm not used to polyamorous relationships, but...if I was one of Genji's girlfriends, I think I would have killed him!

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:54 am

kugepoet

I find it interesting that people admire the geisha phenomenon - in which men leave the women they're married to at home and purchase the company of other women - and yet are getting creeped out by Genji. The one explains a great deal about the other, if you stop and think about it.

Genji is the imaginary creation of a court lady, written to entertain her empress and other companions. To the Japanese, Genji was - and still is - a romantic hero. To a lot of modern Western readers, he's profoundly disturbing. It's OK that you find him so, just as long as you're aware of the fact that you're projecting your values on an artistic creation from a culture with vastly different values. It was a fact that a woman raised at court could expect men to sneak into her sleeping area at night at his whim - it was up to her to live with it. Parents arranged liaisons like this and told their crying daughters to stop whining and be honored by the attention of some influential court figure.

http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/Forced_Affection.html has a very good article.

Even hentai makes a weird sort of sense in this light.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:54 am

Hoshi

That's a very interesting article, and I wish I had had it when I originally read and studied Genji. :( Certainly Western perceptions have a way of shaping how I read non-Western works. In a sense, I now see Genji as an early form of satire. Genji himself is still a pretty pervy guy, but that was the way some men were back then...okay, so some things haven't changed.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:01 am

bebemochi

kugepoet wrote:
I find it interesting that people admire the geisha phenomenon - in which men leave the women they're married to at home and purchase the company of other women - and yet are getting creeped out by Genji. The one explains a great deal about the other, if you stop and think about it.


To be honest, I hadn't really considered the connection. To me, the interesting things about geisha are their schooling in the arts. I'll admit that I think it would be fun to sit at a party and play drinking games and have people fawn all over me for my cleverness and beauty, but ...hey, I'm not a geisha and they do that anyways! :wink: Just kidding! I know that view of geisha is idealized.

To me, the sexual/romantic/flirtacious aspects of the relationship between a geisha and her client(s) is...I don't know what. It seems natural to me, given the culture. I lived in Japan for awhile, and while I never had the opportunity to see a geisha at a party, I imagine that aside from the dancing, singing, and other artistic pursuits, it's not unlike what I've seen in the swanky hostess bars which I've visited. The women there poured drinks for, sang karaoke with, flattered, and sometimes danced with the male clients. It seems normal to me now, but...

Well, why should it be normal? As you said, these men were leaving their wives to spend time with the hostesses. I guess I hadn't really thought of it that way because it became commonplace to me. (My husband and I would hang out at a local snack once or twice a month.)

So why would Genji disgust me? I can only assume it's because despite his behavior, the women still idolize him. You don't find any modern Japanese women idolizing the guys who go to snacks without their wives, no matter how "innocent" the snack is! Mostly they would just roll their eyes and sigh. (Of course, then there are the guys who take their wives to the nice snacks, like my husband and some of our friends. :P )

And then again, there was this American guy living in our town who acted in a way not unlike our Shining Prince, and the Japanese girls <i>did</i> fall all over him! Of course, he wasn't quite as blatant, and none of these girls knew about each other, and I was very disgusted by him!

Ugh, I have been just rambling about all this, sorry kugepoet. I guess what it boils down to is that I <i>do</i> need to think about why Genji disturbs me, but similar behavior that was going on right under my nose didn't!

Thank you for that article, too. Like Hoshi said, I wish I had read that before or while I was reading Genji Monogatari.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:01 am

kugepoet

Quote:
Ugh, I have been just rambling about all this, sorry kugepoet. I guess what it boils down to is that I <i>do</i> need to think about why Genji disturbs me, but similar behavior that was going on right under my nose didn't!


Ladies, you are allowed to find Genji disturbing - you weren't born to this culture, even in its form 1000 years after Genji was written. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it for awhile too.

As someone who was interested in recreating a persona from medieval Japan's Imperial court, I've had to give this some thought. As I kept encountering similar scenarios in various court diaries, I realized this was considered normal social interaction between the sexes in the court class. So how would Saionji deal with this environment?

Imagine your parents telling you you should be flattered that the Retired Emperor or Very Important Government Minister or whomever has shown interest in you, without telling you exactly what that interest is about to entail, then leave you alone with him while they pretend they can't hear what's going on in your room. Imagine them telling you to quit being a baby the morning after, expecting you to write him a nice poem back when his messenger arrives with one for you, and welcoming him back that evening to repeat the process. Your future and the future of your family depends on you pleasing this person. Your position at court depends entirely on your being able to keep the people in power entertained by your presence. You will find yourself competing with other women to do so, because you MIGHT just manage to impress the right person and become the mother of an Emperor.

If you have not done so, check out Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book. She's no shrinking violet like the women that Genji seemed to be attracted to, she's a land shark. She was shaped by the same environment and you can just imagine her withering a potential suitor with a "No thanks, I'm not interested" poem, elegantly calligraphed on colored paper.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:03 am

Hoshi

You know, it's funny that Tale of Genji has become a recent topic--in one of the evaluation essays I'm reading for an instructor, the student evaluates the 2005 PS2 game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, which, according to many sites, is "inspired" by Shikibu's novel. Thing is, the two take place in completely different eras, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I almost didn't say anything in the student's introduction, wherein she talks about Tale of Genji, but I had to say something when she connected the novel to the game on the bases of fighting, swords, and samurai. Also, the fact that the game includes characters by the names of Yoshitsune and Benkei made me realize that, yeah, totally different era.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but samurai didn't yet exist in Heian Japan, right? :?

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:03 am

kugepoet

Hoshi wrote:
You know, it's funny that Tale of Genji has become a recent topic--in one of the evaluation essays I'm reading for an instructor, the student evaluates the 2005 PS2 game Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, which, according to many sites, is "inspired" by Shikibu's novel. Thing is, the two take place in completely different eras, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I almost didn't say anything in the student's introduction, wherein she talks about Tale of Genji, but I had to say something when she connected the novel to the game on the bases of fighting, swords, and samurai. Also, the fact that the game includes characters by the names of Yoshitsune and Benkei made me realize that, yeah, totally different era.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but samurai didn't yet exist in Heian Japan, right? :?


The confusion arises from the fact that the Minamoto and Taira clans who fought for supremacy in the Genpei wars of the late 12th century were also referred to as the Genji and Heike respectively. The Genji/Minamoto won that conflict and founded a military (samurai) government in Kamakura.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:09 am

Hoshi

kugepoet wrote:
The confusion arises from the fact that the Minamoto and Taira clans who fought for supremacy in the Genpei wars of the late 12th century were also referred to as the Genji and Heike respectively. The Genji/Minamoto won that conflict and founded a military (samurai) government in Kamakura.


Right, I totally forgot about the multiple names from the Genpei Wars (I haven't taken Japanese history in more than three years :cry: ). Still, that does create some confusion around the Genji name in the video game. Websites back up the student's claim that the game was inspired by the novel, but it really sounds like it was inspired by the Genpei Wars, right?

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:09 am

kugepoet

Quote:

Right, I totally forgot about the multiple names from the Genpei Wars (I haven't taken Japanese history in more than three years :cry: ). Still, that does create some confusion around the Genji name in the video game. Websites back up the student's claim that the game was inspired by the novel, but it really sounds like it was inspired by the Genpei Wars, right?


"I read it on the Internet so it must be true!"

This is what's on the PS2 website: "Genji: Dawn of the Samuraiâ„¢ is a historic samurai adventure set in feudal Japan. A brutal samurai clan armed with powerful mythical stones has destroyed all other clans and now violently rules the country. As Yoshitune, a cunning swordsman and one of the few surviving decendants of the Genji clan, you embark on an epic adventure to restore peace to Japan and avenge your clan. With swords in hand and the aide of a powerful ally, you wage war against an ambitious rule, skilled swordsmen, vicious demons and a world rife with evil. The dawn of the samurai has arrived."

Now this has me twitching because the Genji were the ones who WON at Dan no Ura and wiped out the Heike.....

I seem to recall some frustrated headbanging over this game over on the Tousando board.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:10 am

kugepoet

Doh! I just remembered. Okami-san, has your cat had the opportunity to enjoy "I Am A Cat" by Soseki Natsume?

This was serialized in a Japanese magazine around the beginning of the 20th century, and it's a cat's eye view of life in the household of a teacher. In addition to cat-like advice on why the rice cooker is a lovely place for a nap, it's a biting satire on Japanese society during the period it was written. Social climbers and intellectual snobs, beware.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:11 am

AutumnCherryBlossom

kugepoet, have you read "The Tale of Murasaki" by Liza Dalby? I'm reading it right now and I love it. I'm wondering what your thoughts are as to its authenticity and how well it was researched. It seems quite well-done to me, but I don't know as much about Murasaki Shikibu as I'd like...yet. :wink:

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:12 am

kugepoet

Hi Autumn,

Yes, I read Dalby's Tale of Murasaki. What is actually known about Murasaki Shikibu is limited to the surviving bits of her diary and so forth, but the overall feel of this novel rang true to me and I found it an enjoyable read.

Penguin has a translation of Murasaki's diary by Richard Bowring that should be very findable if you want to read it. There's also an online version of an early translation from the 1920's at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/ ... asaki.html

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:13 am

carmen

Sorry I'm getting to this thread so late - I've been up to my eyeballs at work...

I too love Heian literature; here are some additonal entries:

The Tale of the Lady Ochikubo
A Cinderella story of sorts set in the last quarter of the 10th century. A beautiful girl is bullied by her step-mother and forced to live in the "lower room" (ochikubo) but somehow manages to meet a prince and eventually live the high life. This is a great one if you can find it. It's out of print now (my copy was published in 1956) but I believe it may be re-released soon. Actually, checking just now I find there are two used copies on Amazon right now for about $30!

O-Kagami, The Great Mirror
Fujiwara Michinaga (966-1027) and His Times
A translation of the supposed diaries of one of the giants of the Heian era, Fujiwara Michinaga by Helen Craig McCollough (my idol) it's mostly funny, sometimes dry but always an interesting glimpse into the intracacies of court politics and social relations of the Heian era.
The Changelings
A bizarre tale of siblings, male and female, that swap gender identities - the girl lives & dresses as a male, while the boy sits behind the blinds all day and even has an affair with his/her mistress! Things get complicated with the girl eventually gets pregnant... If you can find this one you should definitely grab it! (My GOD I can't believe how expensive this book has become! I paid about $35 for my hard copy.)

Memoirs of the Warrior Kumagai
The one and only historical novel by the great Donald Richie (Japanese film historian) is an imaginative tale about the warrior Kumagai during the beginnings of the Kamakura era. Not Heian, but close enough for flavor, it's set as the memoirs of an old warrior turned Buddhist priest as he reflects his life. Kumagai is mentioned in "Yoshitsune" and "Tale of the Heike" as the warrior who killed the elegant young Heike noble Atsumori. This one is really an excellent read!

As for Tale of Genji you've got to remember that not only was it written by a woman, but the characater of Genji was held up as a paragon because he never abandoned any of his lovers, however numerous. For the times I guess that was pretty admirable. That being said, I should also add that I particularly liked the Tamakazura character, since she's the one woman that had enough presence of mind to wriggle out of Genji's clutches before he could have his way with her! She was smart, kept her own counsel and managed to become a respected matron in her own right vs. just another horse in Genji's stable. (ha!)

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:14 am

Musashi

What I found most disturbing in Tale of Genji wasn't really that he was basically a manwhore... I had at times problems following which character was who, given that they're often called by their titels and titles tend to change a lot.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:15 am

kugepoet

Musashi wrote:
I had at times problems following which character was who, given that they're often called by their titels and titles tend to change a lot.


BTW, this depends which translation one is reading. Royall Tyler sticks to the titles because that's how Murasaki wrote the thing, but each chapter heading has a list so you know who is being referred to if there has been a change.

It was considered extremely rude to use personal names unless one had a personal relationship with the person one was addressing or referring to. This is why various characters are referred to either by their court titles or some other identifying nickname. One might refer to me as Lady From The Green House or Seventh Ranked Counselor's Daughter or something. :wink:

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:24 pm

shiroi yasha

Maiko wrote:
I am reading "Tale of Genji"  right now and I'm really enjoying it! :)
genji was real!?.. i thought he was fictional ... because of they way he presented himself in a non traditional way.. i thought " oh yeah they sure made him up" :o .. i was mistaken so what can you tell me about this genji? :|

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:24 pm

kugepoet

Quote:
genji was real!?.. i thought he was fictional ... because of they way he presented himself in a non traditional way.. i thought " oh yeah they sure made him up" :o .. i was mistaken so what can you tell me about this genji? :|


Oh dear, we seem to have confused you. Hikaru Genji, the shining prince, is the creation of 10th century courtier Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote at least 54 chapters (that we know about), of the romantic adventures of the nearly perfect 10th century kuge man to amuse the Empress and her ladies.

I'm not certain what you mean by non-traditional? By the standards of Heian Japan, he was Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas and Dr. Phil all rolled into one handsome, talented, sweet smelling, well dressed package.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:25 pm

shiroi yasha


ah i see.. in cloud of sparrows he is a lord with foresight..and the way he was depicted in not being traditional..in bad times he didnt do what anyone else would..hed follow his heart even though he was going against rules which made him more charming to his geisha lover heiko..althought now im finding allot of these people in this book were real..but i dont think mayonaka no heiko was.. i love her name (midnight equilibruim) :coy:

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:27 pm

kugepoet

DOH! Now I see what happened. Cloud of Sparrows (which I have not yet read) is a different book than the one we were discussing here.

Add The Tales of Ise to the list. I just finished the English translation by H. Jay Harris. This one is for the poetry lovers. It doesn't have a whole lot in the way of plot structure, which can be extremely confusing for Western readers used to plot driven fiction. Instead you have episodes that begin, "A long time ago a young man visited blah and said: (insert waka here). In order to preserve the literary effect, Harris keeps the background notes in a separate section in the back, the idea being that you read the Tales first and let them wash over you, then you can go to the notes and discover more about what was actually going on.

Sacred Rites in Moonlight: Ben No Naishi Nikki Ben no Naishi, Shirley Yumiko Hulvey, translator.

This is a diary of a very highly ranked lady in the court of Emperor Go Fukakusa in the mid 1200s (my period!!!!!). Rather than a private record such as Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book, the Ben No Naishi Nikki is a "public" diary, describing the author's duties as a guardian of the sacred Imperial regalia. Like many diaries and chronicles of the period, it also records a fair bit of poetry by Ben no Naishi and her sister, who often composed linked verse for and with the Emperor.

If you are interested in the inner workings and official duties of women in the Imperial Court during the Kamakura jidai, this is an excellent source.

Here's one for Musashi-dono and any other militaria fans:

In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan Translation with Interpretive Essay by Thomas D. Conlan.

Most of us know the legend in which Japan was saved from invasion by the Mongols due to the appearance of a "divine wind". Conlan's study of military records and a picture scroll commissioned by one of the men involved in the fight, indicates that the Japanese were by no means helpless and quite capable of fighting the Mongols to a standstill on their own terms. Bound Japanese-style to be read from right to left, the book includes images and text from the original picture scrolls. (It makes reading footnotes a little challenging, but it's so worth it!)

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:27 pm

Obakedake

Good thread here! I love Japanese literature from all ages, especially the old tales. Thanks for some of the titles I've yet to check out!

As for Genji, it's my favorite overall... I can see how the character of Genji himself can be a turn off, but the tale is really about the various court ladies at the time, which I find to be so interesting. Afterall, Murasaki Shikubu glosses over all of the "men's talk" about work and such, and focuses completely on various love stories.

And for those who really do hate the character Genji, please keep reading until the end! He actually dies midway through the book, and I find the second half which deals with his two "sons" Kaoru and Niou to be the best part of the whole tale. Niou follows after Genji's playboy ways but Kaoru is really quite the opposite and my favorite character of the book. So keep reading all the way through! It just gets better!

As for the translations, I reccomend the Royall Tyler version. I find his naming conventions (which try to remain true to the original text) to be more confusing than other translations, but overall his prose is much less stiff and more enjoyable to read.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:28 pm

Togashi Ayame

Well, I got two books I'd recommend. Both are fairly new, written by Westerners, but to me, it's the feel of the book that makes me want to recommend them. But both book are set in medieval Japan.

Book of Loss by Julith Jedamus: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Loss-Julit ... 075382048X
Written in diary style, this book is about a woman serving as a lady-in-waiting to the Empress in the Heian court. Classical backstabbing women, scheming, plots that twists and turns back at you. The book is quickly read (imo), and is quite enjoyable as a romance/drama novel/diary. There is a nice little list of reference and info at the end, that I found useful and enlightening.


Little Sister by Kara Dalkey: http://www.amazon.ca/Little-Sister-Kara ... 0140386319
This is a children's book, but it's very sweet and it could be a good way to get your little daughter/son to become interested in the mythical and historical world of Japan.
The story is about a little girl called Mitsuko from the Fujiwara family (yep, you heard correctly) who sets out on a journey to save her sister's soul. Very cute and page-flipping.

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:29 pm

Ems

Aww, those look like really neat books, Ayame. :) I'll have to see if my local library has them.

I just finished a collection of about 200 short tales translated by Royall Tyler. The range shown by the tales is really extraordinary as well - there are a couple that pretty much everyone knows (Kaguya-hime) and lots more that are obscure and just plain amusing. Tyler is a fantastic translator - we actually translated a part of Konjaku monogatari in my kogo class last semester, so I got to compare the class' translation to his. He's able to write things so that they flow very naturally in English without sacrificing the meaning of the original Japanese words.

Anyway, because the book is divided up into so many short tales, it's perfect for picking up and reading for a few minutes at a time, then leaving it alone for however long you feel like. I highly recommend it. =D

Japanese Tales
http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Tales-Pa ... 911&sr=8-1

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Re: Literature of Medieval Japan

Post by IG Team » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:33 pm

isshi

Oh tale of Genji...

I disliked it. It was written for housebound court ladies to pour over in their crumbling houses while husband was off bedding around Heian. It's hyper-idealised romantic fantasy, and not a fantasy I personally enjoy.
Even the way it's been a compiled, a mish mash of editing and sequals by god knows how many people makes the narrative jarring.
It's virtually impossible to enjoy it now days as it was meant and I'm not going to kid myself I can enjoy it because it's a 'classic'.

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