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This collection of translated tales is from the most famous work in all of Japanese classical literature—the Konjaku Monogatari Shu. This collection of traditional Japanese folklore is akin to the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer or Dante's Inferno—powerfully entertaining tales that reveal striking aspects of the cultural psychology, fantasy, and creativity of medieval Japan—tales that still resonate with modern Japanese readers today. The ninety stories in this book are filled with keen psychological insights, wry sarcasm, and scarcely veiled criticisms of the clergy, nobles, and peasants alike—suggesting that there are, among all classes and peoples, similar failings of pride, vanity, superstition and greed—as well as aspirations toward higher moral goals. This is the largest collection in English of the Konjaku Monogatari Shu tales ever published in one volume. It presents the low life and the high life, the humble and the devout, the profane flirting, farting and fornicating of everyday men and women, as well as their yearning for the wisdom, transcendence and compassion that are all part and parcel of our shared humanity. Stories Include: The Grave of Chopsticks Robbers Come to a Temple and Steal Its Bell The Woman Fish Peddler at the Guardhouse Fish are Turned into the Lotus Sutra A Dragon is Caught by a Tengu Goblin The Monk Tojo Predicts the Fall of Shujaku Gate Wasps Attack a Spider in Revenge
This volume brings together in convenient form a rich selection of Japanese prose dating from the ninth to the seventeenth centuries, a period during which the preeminent cultural and aesthetic values were those of the Heian court. It contains 22 works representing all the major indigenous literary forms, either complete or in generous excerpts, and is particularly rich in writing by women and in autobiographical writings. This anthology contains longer selections than the only other available anthology, which was published in the 1950s, and each selection is preceded by an introduction reflecting the most recent scholarship. With three exceptions, all the translations are by the compilers, and almost all of them are published here for the first time. Because of space limitations, the compiler has omitted the two long masterpieces of the age, The Tale of Genji and The Tale of Heike, which deserve to be read in their entirety, and which are available in paperback English translations. The book contains an extensive general introduction, thirteen illustrations, five maps, a glossary, and a selected bibliography of works in English translation.
Burton Watson and Haruo Shirane, renowned translators and scholars, introduce English-speaking readers to the vivid tradition of early and medieval Japanese anecdotal ( setsuwa) literature. These orally narrated and written tales drew on both local folk tradition and continental sources. Taken from seven major anthologies of anecdotal literature compiled between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, these dramatic and often amusing stories open a major window onto the foundations of Japanese culture. Out of thousands of setsuwa, Shirane has selected thirty-eight of the most powerful and influential, each of which is briefly introduced. Recounting the exploits of warriors, farmers, priests, and aristocrats, and concerning topics as varied as poetry, violence, power, and sex, these tales reveal the creative origins of a range of literary and dramatic genres, from court tales and travel accounts to no drama and Kabuki. Watson's impeccable translations relay the wit, mystery, and Buddhist sensibility of these protean works, while Shirane's sophisticated analysis illuminates the meaning and context of their compact stories. Capped by an extensive bibliography, this collection fully immerses the reader in the thrilling world of secular and religious tales.
Traditional Japanese Literature features a rich array of works dating from the very beginnings of the Japanese written language through the noted age of aristocratic court life into the period of warrior culture. The anthology contains new translations of such canonical texts as The Tales of the Heike and generous selections from Man'yoshu, The Tale of Genji, The Pillow Book, and Kokinshu. It includes a stunning range of folk literature, war epics, poetry, and n? drama, and an impressive collection of dramatic, poetic, and fictional works from both elite and popular cultures. Also represented are religious and secular anecdotes, literary criticism, essays, and works written in Chinese by Japanese writers. Arranged by chronology and genre, the readings are carefully introduced and placed into a larger political, cultural, and literary context, and the extensive bibliographies offer further study. Intended as a companion to Columbia University Press's Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900, Traditional Japanese Literature significantly deepens our understanding of Japanese literature as well as of ancient, classical, and medieval Japanese culture.
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