- Series: The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon; Reissue edition (August 13, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375714510
- ISBN-13: 978-0375714511
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Japanese Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) Paperback – August 13, 2002
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From Library Journal
These legends and popular tales220 in all, ranging from one to three pagesopen windows upon tradition and reality in medieval Japan. These vigorously and colloquially translated tales recall worlds conjured by Chaucer, Boccaccio, Perrault, and Grimm; East and West meet in common pursuit of ways to endure social and natural adversity. The social adversaries are often robbers, miscreant monks, or retired emperorsbut above all women, especially when disguised as foxes. The natural adversaries are ghosts and demons, snakes and dragons. One survives them all by wit and faithand a dollop of good luck. The Japanese tale shares with the German elements of violence and vulgarity but is finally closest to the hearty bawdiness and comic earthiness of the French and the English tales. Arthur Waldhorn, English Dept., City Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Few readers who start the book will be able to resist going through to the end."
-- New York Times
"Fresh, imaginative, and uniquely organized...told in a style clear, homey, and unpretentious, [they] yield great pleasure."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Enchanting....The stories are variously witty, allegorical, mystical, gross, funny, and enigmatic....Tyler provides a helpful introduction, and his poised translations are something of a masterpiece."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Translated with exceptional skill, this is a perfect example of scholarship concealing scholarship. Tyler has made these tales read gracefully and effortlessly. He writes in a lively and colloquial style that effectively captures the spirit of the originals without being jarringly modern. This is an important book."
-- Donald Keene, Shincho Professor of Japanese, Columbia University
"Royall Tyler's translations are nothing short of superb -- crisp, restrained, ably balancing the ribald and the profound. The results make available masterpieces from five centuries of Japanese literature. This book is a stellar addition to Pantheon's "outstanding folklore series."
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Top Customer Reviews
Each of the originals had a simple style derived from the oral traditions that preserved them. Some of them constitute the oldest folk tales ever written down, dating to collections made by gentlemen scholars of the 12th century who wrote down tales they heard for their own entertainment.
But the collection pulls in tales from many different eras of Japanese history and many different aspects of Japanese culture, providing a truly diverse and entertaining set of stories for the reader who wishes either to enjoy a good tale, or for the serious student of Japan who wants to understand the culture more deeply.
Royall Tyler also made the definition translation of _The Tale of Genji_, the 11th century classic novel that is the crown jewel of Japanese traditional literature and one of the world's great novels. _Genji_, running approximately one thousand pages in English translation, written in the elegant language of the Imperial Court, is the very opposite of these short, vernacular folktales and stories. That Tyler can do justice to both sorts of work is a rare and admirable quality in a translator.
Serious students of classical Japan will find that the tales included in _Japanese Tales_ that date to the same era as _Genji_ offer a valuable alternate perspective to life and society during this time period. Any library that carries _The Tale of Genji_ on its shelves ought to carry _Japanese Tales_. The two works serve as bookends to the opposite ends of the Japanese traditional literary spectrum.
Of course, with 220 stories in one volume, some of the stories are very short indeed, lasting a half-page at best. Many are just the right size for a child's bedtime story. Some of the stories are longer, but I don't think any of them run over 2 or 3 pages. Some stories have a moral, or tell a cautionary tale, while many are merely there to entertain, frighten or amuse.
As interesting as the book itself is the author's introduction, a 35 page quick course on Japanese folklore and mythology. In it, he outlines some fundamental themes as well as showing the logic behind his categorizing of the stories.
An excellent book, belong on the shelf of anyone with an interest in Japanese folklore.
The translations are excellent, and it is an incredible credit to Royall Tyler that these stories--set in a time a millennium removed and half a world away from the reader--are so accessible and easy to read. Tyler effectively groups the stories by topic, giving the reader a bit of structure to the wonderfully diverse range of tales. The introduction is packed full of information, but perhaps my only (small) complaint is that with the large number of place names mentioned it would have been nice if a map had been included. Overall though, this collection of tales is an excellent addition to the canon of English translations of ancient Japanese literature and provides great insight to the mind and world of Heian Japan. "Japanese Tales" should be a must-read for all people interested in the folklore and literature of Japan.