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what books we're currently reading: Genji Monogatari

 
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tokyodog
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 9:18 am    Post subject: what books we're currently reading: Genji Monogatari Reply with quote
Hello everyone.

By way of introduction, I'm Mike and I'm co-moderator of the literature forum with Wave Tossed.

If you'd like to see what we're reading at the moment, please check out www.nihonshi.org/

We've just finished two great bios, one of Nobunaga, by Lamers, and another of Hideyoshi, by Berry. In June, we'll be reading the classic Genji Monogatari. I'd be glad to have anyone new begin reading Genji with us.

Regards,
Mike
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Wave Tossed
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm currently reading MIYAMOTO MUSASHI: HIS LIFE AND WRITINGS by Tokitsu Kenji. This is a long, exhaustive work that attempts to get under all the myths about this famous swordsman. The author presents several views of various events in Miyamoto's life, and then tries to pick which view makes the most sense in light of the evidence. Later on, Tokitsu has printed the entire book A BOOK OF FIVE RINGS and engages in a discussion of the work. I've just begun the book, but it looks to be a good one.
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tokyodog
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:26 pm    Post subject: Japan history reading group Reply with quote
Let me know what you think of the Miyamoto Musashi book after you finish it, and if you would give it a recommendation. At the moment, I'm reading lots of Heian period stuff. Finishing Murasaki's Genji and starting Sei Shonagon's Makura no Sohshi. For secondary materials on the Heian, just finished Ivan Morris's World of the Shining Prince. The reading group will also be starting Mary Elizabeth Berry's bio of Hideyoshi next month, August.

I just finished reading this Hideyoshi bio a couple months ago. Excellent. Hideyoshi was quite a guy. He seemed like a political and military genius at the beginning and middle of his life. But at the end, he starts getting erratic: invasions of Korea and forcing the suicide of both teamaster Sen no Rikyu and his nephew Hidetsugu.

The discussion at the nihonshi reading group has become pretty active. If anyone is interested, take a look.
www.nihonshi.org/

Regards,
Mike
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Hara.Tadayasu
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Heh, I got this book too, still preparing to read. .)
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Vasha
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject: Request help for neophyte reader Reply with quote
I know next to nothing about classical Japanese literature, although I've read a few recent Japanese novels. What resources can you suggest that would help me appreciate "Genji Monogatari"? Is there a translation that has a particularly good introduction and notes? What helpful sources are available on the web or in books?

Thank you!
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Read "The World of the Shining Prince" by Ivan Morris. Excellent introduction to the world of Genji. Though a more difficult read, "Tales of Flowering Fortunes" also has some great information, especially in the appendix (sorry, mind is blanking on the translator for that one).

I also highly recommend Sei Shonagon's Makura no Soshi, translated as "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon". Unlike other 'pillow books' this one is literally her diary, and gives a great insight into life of a court lady (such as Murasaki Shikibu, author of "Genji Monogatari") in this time.

What translation you use will also change how you perceive it when you read--I recommend Royall Tyler's translation. I believe it is the most recent full translation, and he doesn't have quite the same inhibitions as some of the earlier translators.

Those should get you started.

-Josh
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Vasha
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Josh, thank you for your suggestions.
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craigsan
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Books I found helpful while reading Genji:

Tale of Genji: A Reader's Guide by William J. Puette.
Murasaki Shikibu: The Tale of Genji by Richard Bowring.
The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of `The Tale of Genji' by Haruo Shirane.

The last one goes into it a lot deeper than the other two.
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Wave Tossed
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Update: I just got through reading THE BROKEN COMMANDMENT by Shimazaki Toson. This novel was written in 1906. This is a compelling story concerning those who were members of the former eta outcast class. Particularly, a young teacher who has carefully hidden his eta origins finally decides to reveal himself to his employers and the village where he lives. This novel is a character study of how this man has come to hide his origins -- he was given a "commandment" by his father that, in order to succeed in his life, he must conceal his eta background. The novel further depicts how keeping this secret impacts his life and relationships. How he finally decides to break the commandment and speak the truth, regardless of the grim consequences he must face.

The novel is available in English translation in paperback from Amazon.com. Recommended.
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