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The Ise Stories: Ise monogatari Paperback – July 13, 2010
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An excellent translation with clear, readable prose, and well-wrought poems. Even more useful is [the] concise description of the long and convoluted reception history of this important but perplexing text. (CHOICE)
About the Author
Joshua S. Mostow is professor of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Top Customer Reviews
For the general reader (like me): it's a collection of poems with explanatory narratives, most extremely short, set out in 125 episodes with some charming 17th-century illustrations (black-and-white). It's a brief, yet interesting insight into aristocratic life and culture in 9th-century Japan, seen through the window of a single man's friendships and romantic adventures. However, a lot of the time I felt I was only just grasping the meaning of the poems and the accompanying narrative. Which leads me on to ...
For the specialist: there's a concise introduction, including a brief history of commentary on the stories; the text of the poems in transliterated Japanese; a bibliography; an index of the poems by first line in English and Japanese; and a standard index. There's also a commentary after each poem which sums up the various major interpretations of each episode and explains some of the choices the translators made.
Mostow and Tyler's prose is very accessible, and even a non-specialist like me can find some help in their commentary. Overall, I'm pleased to have read The Ise Stories and foresee myself dipping into it again and again. However, I suggest you would get more out of this book if you have read The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) or The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan (Kodansha Globe).