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The Tale of Genji (unabridged) Hardcover – July 1, 2015
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“This is the Washburn Tale of Genji from start to finish: immensely scholarly but also, somehow, uncannily readable, helpful without being pedantic, clarifying without ever simplifying…. It’s an amazingly cheering performance, a Genji to last a century.” (Open Letters Monthly)
“Murasaki watched the sexual maneuverings, the social plots, the marital politics, the swirl of slights and flatteries that went on around her, with the keen, sometimes sardonic, and always worldly eyes of a medieval Jane Austen.” (The New Yorker)
“In Dennis Washburn’s new translation of The Tale of Genji, lovers of novels will have the literary experience denied them until now: for hours and weeks at a time they will be able to sink into the dark, titillating, sexy, sad, enraging, absorbing world of this, the world’s first novel, written by Murasaki Shikibu, the imaginative genius court woman of eleventh-century Japan. Washburn eliminates the gap in centuries between us and that long-lost world, and preserves for us the freshness of vision and voice of that great writer from long ago and her Proustian chronicling of the darkening beauty of a world in decline, a world depleted of male erotic power and female depredation, of the tortures of jealousy and the frailness of art and beauty to console.” (Alan Tansman, University of California at Berkeley)
“A formidable accomplishment. The language is beautiful, the footnotes are helpful yet unobtrusive: Washburn has performed a great service by making this groundbreaking novel, written in the eleventh century, available to the English-speaking world in a version worthy of the Japanese masterpiece.” (Edith Grossman)
“Retranslations of a classic are always reason to celebrate. All the more so when it’s the Genji, with all its complex characters and unforgettable episodes. One tries to begin logically, from the first page, but can’t resist flipping ahead to locate favorite scenes and see how they are imagined anew. . . . A fresh and invaluable Tale of Genji for both those of us reuniting with a familiar friend and those encountering it for the very first time.” (Valerie Henitiuk, editor-in-chief, Translation Studies, and author of Worlding Sei Shônagon: The Pillow Book in Translation)
“Award-winning translator Dennis Washburn’s lucid and accessible rendering will introduce new readers to the entrancing narrative world of this great classic.” (David Lurie, Columbia University)
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Top Customer Reviews
In 2002 came Royall Tyler’s effort (see my review elsewhere on Amazon).
Now comes the gift of a new translation, this one by Dartmouth professor of Asian Studies Dennis Washburn. In his enlightening introduction, Washburn states his overriding concern for “clarity and accessibility” and in this he has definitely succeeded.
Washburn does the first-time reader of Genji the favor of minimizing footnotes by including and explaining obscure details within the main text. He also uses the device of using italics to separate characters’ thoughts from their actions or statements. I have not quite finished reading the entire novel—-this version comes to 1,320 pages—-with no list of characters or illustrations—-but the few chapters I have sampled are certainly wordier than Seidensticker’s—-and in many instances, also easier to comprehend.
My quibbles—-if I may be so ungrateful as to mention them—-have to do mainly with style and word choice. While Seidensticker is terse, he is also more elegant. This is particularly true with the poetry that is integral to the novel.Read more ›
$2.85 for Washburn's translation is an incredible bargain and the Kindle version is much easier to read, considering the immense bulk of the printed volume, especially for those of us who have cats.
"This is the Washburn Tale of Genji from start to finish: immensely scholarly but also, somehow, uncannily readable, helpful without being pedantic, clarifying without ever simplifying. Gone are the Edwardian paraphrases of Arthur Waley; gone too is the somewhat flat-footed gait of the Edward Seidensticker; and the occasionally forbidding purity of the Royall Tyler is softened and colored in around the edges. It’s an amazingly cheering performance, a Genji to last a century. And if W.W. Norton should see fit to create an electronic version, your poor terrified metacarpals will scarcely notice the pages flying by."
You can find the whole review here:
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting gift piece that will be sporadically read. Was more a curiosity about one of the first known novels by a woman.Published 9 months ago by Jerry M
How wonderful to have this important novel in its entirety! The translator seems to have taken great care in his work, making this long but beautiful book (by a tenth-century... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Athena