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Japanese Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) Paperback – August 13, 2002
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- 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."
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The broadness of the content is great. But the writing is not friendly for laypeople (formal terms, lecturing story-telling). Read morePublished 9 days ago by LO75
Amazing book, with many funny and incredible tales, that both makes you laugh, smile and wonder at the same time. I really love it.Published 1 month ago by Sigrid Aschelund
Excellent book. I enjoy learning about the ancient japanese culture and the stories are wonderful.Published 4 months ago by Sarah
Great little short stories. A perfect introductory book for Japanese folklore and mythology.Published 4 months ago by Spookiekittie
Not a good book for kids. Don't expect western humor or moralism. The Japanese have a different way of thinking.Published 5 months ago by milkymaid
Solid tales, but sometimes culturally confusing as compared to other anthologies in this series.Published 7 months ago by Dawn M Burley
Even though I bought this book several years ago, I unknowingly continue to provide it with a prominent place on one of our bookcases. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Melissa Camp
This fairy tale collection is great for anyone interested in Japanese mythology. As the author says in the introduction many of these stories have never been translated before, and... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jessica Engelbrecht