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lordameth
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Before Heike and After Reply with quote
Reposted from an academic mailing list:

Royall Tyler writes:

Quote:
Translating The Tale of the Heike (Viking, 2012) reminded me that Heike does not tell the whole story of those critical decades (1156-1221); and it seemed to me that this complete story, as it has long been known in Japan, should be more widely accessible. The result is a print-on-demand book that I put up a few days ago on Amazon ($11.99):
Before HEIKE and After: HOGEN, HEIJI, JOKYUKI
(This is the search format for the title. The book text has normal macrons.)
The e-version ($8.99) should be available any day. However, I cannot guarantee its formatting, any more than I can guarantee, alas, the formatting and quality of the e-edition ofHeike.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
And here's the link to buy it from Amazon:

Before HEIKE and After: HOGEN, HEIJI, JOKYUKI
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow, this is great! There's never been a full English translation of Heiji Monogatari. Getting all three of these accounts in one volume for 12 bucks is early Christmas.

Tyler's recently published (October) translation of the Heike is excellent as well, although McCullough's will be better for beginners. Instead of the straightforward prose of McCullough, Tyler's presents it in spoken dialogue, recitative, and song (aria) form, so that it more resembles the Heike as it was performed by biwa hoshi. I received a prepub copy of the book from a third party via Penguin/Viking and it's really something-it makes it a much more artistic and grandiose read, just like a semi-fictional 'war tale' should be. It's so huge you could also use it to inflict blunt force trauma on unscrupulous comic book writers and artists.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
My copy has been on order for a while. It should be here Monday or Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to both books.

Several years ago there was a translation of Jokyuki in the MN monographs that was good, but some parts (name lists, etc.) were abbreviated, and that sort of thing frustrates the hell out of me. Then again, I'm an onomastics junkie, so... Wink

Royall is a sterling guy, and a great translator. I'm really looking forward to this.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ordered my copy a few days ago. I spent months this year trying to get through William Wilson's translation of the Hogen Monogatari. I wound up giving up maybe 40% into it. It was so dry and did not compel me to want to turn the page.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I ordered mine last week, but, it won't arrive until Dec 10th. Mail crawls in the north. I hope it isn't a dry translation as well. The translator has a big part in keeping the liveliness of the prose. John
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
I ordered mine last week, but, it won't arrive until Dec 10th. Mail crawls in the north. I hope it isn't a dry translation as well. The translator has a big part in keeping the liveliness of the prose. John


Did you click the amazon link provided at the bottom of my posts to support the Samurai Archives podcast and webpage?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I used the link you provided in an above post. I guess it didn't support the site?? Year end support coming. Should make up for it. Very Happy John
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
I used the link you provided in an above post. I guess it didn't support the site?? Year end support coming. Should make up for it. Very Happy John


The above one works too. But make up for it anyway Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:19 am    Post subject: Hogen Monogatari Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Ordered my copy a few days ago. I spent months this year trying to get through William Wilson's translation of the Hogen Monogatari. I wound up giving up maybe 40% into it. It was so dry and did not compel me to want to turn the page.


So glad to hear this because i really struggled with the dry prose ,and all this time i thought it was just me .
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I read Before Heike and After recently, and then read Tale of the Heike in McCullough's translation.Having the Tyler book made the Heike politics easier to follow and McCullough's translation is very readable. Tatsu's review of Tyler's translation made me covet that, so I've ordered that too.

I wish someone would do a new translation of the Soga Brothers. I'm reading that at the moment in a 1987 translation by Thomas Cogan. It was hard to get hold of and very expensive, so I borrowed a copy from the National Library. It's a great read (what a story! why isn't it as well known in the West as the 47 ronin??) but I'd like to compare it with another version.

Professor Tyler, this could be your next project Very Happy It's too wet in NSW to do anything else at the moment.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Great stuff.

As often happens, though, I find myself really wishing there was a glossary so that we could cross-reference the titles and ranks. Sad
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
It's a great read (what a story! why isn't it as well known in the West as the 47 ronin??) but I'd like to compare it with another version.


I suspect it has to do with the fact that the Soga brothers tale is seen as 'just' a tale of personal revenge for a slain family member, one of the brothers was killed in the deed, and the other executed as a criminal. There's also that element of some versions having them attack Yoritomo, the Shogun-what kind of samurai tries to kill the Shogun?!?. All of this doesn't exactly fit in with the wonders of bushido, committing glorious ritual suicide, and the samurai ethic as seen by most Westerners.

The Ronin, on the other hand (that being of course the fictionalized Chushingura version) fought not for themselves but out of loyalty to and for the honor of their unjustly executed lord, and brought justice to a corrupt and scheming bureaucrat. And they happily committed ritual suicide (in the legend, although all but one were executed in real life) just to underline how kewl they were. You'll notice at no time do the Ronin plot against the man who actually had their lord killed (Shogun Tsunayoshi), and they even took great pains to impress upon people their vendetta was not a comment on the Shogun's decision.

Then again, maybe it just happened that the 47 Ronin story is the one the early Western researchers happened to run across most often Laughing .

I agree, it would be great to see the story of the Soga gain some traction here. Since one, the other, or both seem to appear as hidden characters in almost EVERY kabuki play ever written, it's hard to see why the early researchers didn't take to them.


Oh, and BTW, my new friend at Dark Horse sent me an advance copy of 47 Ronin #3. And yes, it still sucks and it's becoming increasingly obvious how unsuited Sakai's art is for a serious story.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, all of that makes sense. But the Soga brothers are quite strongly drawn characters with lots of shades of dark and light, good and bad, and they have deep relations with each other, their mother, their courtesan lovers and their various relatives in the Kanto clans. Maybe it's the intense Buddhist message and the unrelenting tragic atmosphere that did not appeal to early Western researchers. It certainly isn't a straight forward tale of bushido.

In this version Yoritomo (embroiled in the cycle of revenge because the brothers' grandfather, Sukechika, murdered the son his daughter bore to Yoritomo) understands the need for revenge and admires the brothers' self-sacrifice, eventually placating their malevolent spirits by deifying them. But they do feel like drifters, stuck with the past, having no place in the new Kamakura world.

Apparently the tale was often recited by women, as a Buddhist outreach and to honour the spirits of the dead. There is a good chapter on the significance of the swords, which were Minamoto heirlooms, in Swords, Oaths and Prophetic Visions by Elizabeth Oyler.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Maybe it's the intense Buddhist message and the unrelenting tragic atmosphere that did not appeal to early Western researchers. It certainly isn't a straight forward tale of bushido.


That's a good observation-it is a very Buddhist story and reinforces the idea that 'all life is suffering' with the tragic atmosphere you noted. Even with the 47 Ronin committing seppuku at the end of it all, the story still seems to have a 'happy ending' with them killing Kira (and many of the plays/movies end with their march to Asano's grave at Sengakuji temple with Kira's head, leaving out that nasty 'died for their crimes' part). The fact that the tale of the Soga brothers is much more nuanced (rather than having black and white cardboard cut-out heroes and villains) would also make it less attractive to Westerners.

heron wrote:
There is a good chapter on the significance of the swords, which were Minamoto heirlooms, in Swords, Oaths and Prophetic Visions by Elizabeth Oyler.


That's one of my favorite Japanese history books-maybe even my favorite. Oyler does such a great job with examining the literature that grew up around so many famous 'legends/events' of the late Heian/early Kamakura period and how it was heavily influenced by who was writing it, who for, and why. Her insights are excellent and really helped me get a handle on the Kamakura period when I first started to seriously study it.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I so agree about Oyler. Her book is a great companion to the texts and explains many things lucidly.

I just got my Royall Tyler translation of Heike and am looking forward to getting to know his version.

Is there a taiga of Tale of the Soga Brothers? I keep seeing it as a gritty Western Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Is there a taiga of Tale of the Soga Brothers? I keep seeing it as a gritty Western Very Happy


Nope, never been a Soga Taiga. Come to think of it, while there are dozens of TV/film adaptations of the 47 Ronin, I can't think of a single one for the Soga brothers (although surely there have to be a few). Maybe that's another reason-outside of kabuki, they didn't impact Japanese pop culture and hence didn't filter into Western pop culture.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
A quick look at IMDB shows several short 'Soga Kyodai' films, but all look to have been in the silent era. I wonder if there was something about the increasingly militaristic/Imperialistic stance of Japan in the 30's and early 40's that caused the story to fall out of favor?
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
A quick look at IMDB shows several short 'Soga Kyodai' films, but all look to have been in the silent era. I wonder if there was something about the increasingly militaristic/Imperialistic stance of Japan in the 30's and early 40's that caused the story to fall out of favor?


Well, they were having enough problems with hot-headed young officers staging military coups as it was--a movie that showed attempts on the military dictator's life probably wasn't well looked at by either the militarists OR the democratic-types.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
There may be something in this theory. The brothers don't take advice from anyone, ignoring everyone around them who tries to dissuade them. But some high ranking warriors encourage them in secret and there is widespread admiration for them after their death. I can imagine authorities would be slightly alarmed by the conflicting messages in the story Very Happy
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