10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
extremely detailed and thorough annotated edition for a difficult story,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Paperback)
Though it made the reading of the Genji extremely dense, I feel that the extra information provided in this edition is invaluable to understanding the story, especially for people of this modern age. The setting and lifestyle of the story is so far removed from the 21st century that to appreciate what's going on, a lot of details need to be explained, and Royall Tyler does an excellent job of it, while maintaining a faithful translation. He stays true to the original author's naming conventions-- that is, she does not refer to characters by real personal names but uses titles and nicknames, and Tyler follows this convention but includes a list of who's who in each chapter, with updates to their changing titles throughout the story.
One note: I did not realize that there were appendices until the very end of the book, and seriously regretted not looking at them before. He includes a map of the capital, the imperial palace grounds, a glossary of commonly used terms, and a guide to period fashion, which helps to illustrate all those discussions about the beautiful clothes the characters wear. Do not be afraid to refer to and make use of these guides at the back of the book while you are reading the Genji! More understanding results in a deeper appreciation of the book.
That being said, I don't think anyone can be expected to understand everything on the first read. I feel that the Genji Monogatari is a story to be read many times throughout one's life, and perhaps every time you read it you will discover something new.
I have read several different translations of this book, but I felt the most satisfied by Royall Tyler's translation. I think it is a great place to start, at the very least.