Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 (Translations from the Asian Classics)

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ISBN-13: 978-0231136976
ISBN-10: 0231136978
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Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 (Translations from the Asian Classics) + Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900 (Translations from the Asian Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

It's one of those impressive, erudite must-have titles for anyone interested in Asian literature

(Terry Hong The Bloomsbury Review 1900-01-00)

An anthology that comprises superb translations of an exceptionally wide range of texts, each with a pithy introduction... Highly recommended.

(CHOICE)

This volume provides a wealth of material.

(Robert Huey Monumenta Nipponica 1900-01-00)

Review

The editor has done a splendid job at this herculean task. What is particularly notable in this anthology is the variety of texts included--ancient gazetteers, prayers, sermons, works originally written in Chinese, etc. Many of the works here have not previously been translated, and the included bibliographies are also excellent.

(Joshua Mostow, University of British Columbia)
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Product Details

  • Series: Translations from the Asian Classics
  • Paperback: 1288 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (August 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231136978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231136976
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Haruo Shirane was born in Japan and grew up in the United States. He had an interest in writing fiction and started as an English literature major in college, but in his junior year, after a year in London, he turned his attention to Japanese literature. His first book was on The Tale of Genji, which is noted as the world's "first novel." The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of the Tale of Genji looks at both the similarities to the modern European novel and at the very distinct differences, examining the Tale of Genji in a broad social, political, and literary context. His next major book was on Matsuo Basho and haiku. Here he begins with a comparative framework, looking at the North American and European reception of Japanese haiku and then goes on to show the highly unusual manner in which this poetry emerged and the cultural base on which it stands. The most recent book, Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons, continues this trajectory, but carries it into various literary, visual, and artistic genres. He is interested in particular in the major role that nature and the four seasons has in Japanese culture.

In between these books, he has written two books on Japanese classical grammar, edited a number of anthologies of Japanese literature, and edited two volumes of essays on the issues of canonization and popularization of the Japanese classics.

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, at Columbia University. He writes widely on Japanese literature, visual arts, and cultural history. He is particularly interested in the interaction between popular and elite cultures and the issue of cultural memory. He is the recipient of Fulbright, Japan Foundation, SSRC, NEH grants, and has been awarded the Kadokawa Genyoshi Prize, Ishida Hakyō Prize, and the Ueno Satsuki Memorial Prize on Japanese Culture.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Japanese Instructor on March 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A comprehensive selection of Japanese texts from the ancient, Heian and medieval periods, this book is a very valuable addition to the existing range of anthologies of classical Japanese writing available in English. It far exceeds any other anthology of its kind in terms of both the breadth of its selections and the depth of its secondary supporting material.

A wide range of primary texts is included, with extensive excerpts not only from major classics such as The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), The Pillow Book (Makura no soshi), or The Tales of the Heike (Heike monogatari), but also passages from texts less commonly included in anthologies of Japanese literature, such as the Hitachi Province Gazetteer (Hitachi fudoki) or The Essentials of Salvation (Ojo yoshu). Other genres represented include poetry in Chinese, setsuwa, noh, kyogen, linked verse, and sermon-ballads (sekkyo-bushi). Some texts in this volume have been selected to complement each other: for instance, one can read the account of the death of Taira no Atsumori in The Tales of the Heike, read a dramatization of the event in the noh Atsumori, and also read a letter from Honen, the founder of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan, to Kumagai, the man who killed Atsumori ("Reply to Kumagai Naozane, the Monk Rensei"). Likewise, the anthology includes both the famous essay An Account of a Ten-Foot-Square Hut (Hojoki) and part of the less widely read Record of a Pond Pavilion (Chiteiki), which addresses similar themes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ruisu on November 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
This volume reflects the state of the art in translations of pre-modern (classical) Japanese literature. No interested reader or scholar can afford to be without it.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book and its partner below. They give a wonderful selection of Japanese literature from earliest times up to the early modern period. These books have been an inexhaustible resource on their own, as well as an aid to finding more texts I am interested in. These would be Desert Island books for sure. While quite large there are abridged versions available, but hey, go the whole hog, they are a library in themselves! Can't recommend them strongly enough.

Early Modern Japanese Literature Translations
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Calimach on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am sure that in many respects this is an excellent work. But be forewarned that in at least one instance the story is bowdlerized.

The myth I am referring to is the one about Yamato Takeru and his slaying of the Kumaso brothers. He accomplishes the feat while still a young boy. He dresses as a girl and enters the party where the Kumaso brothers are feasting, and they seat the beautiful "girl" between them and enjoy him tremendously (we can safely assume that they are not discussing the care of koi).

When the two brothers are soused he stabs the elder through the chest, in warrior style. The younger however he stabs through the anus, presumably in revenge for an analogous and dishonorable act just done to him.

But you would be hard pressed to divine that from this translation. Why do translators think that watering down strong wine is what modern audiences want???
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