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Tale of Genji, Translation, Canonization and World Lit

 
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heron
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject: Tale of Genji, Translation, Canonization and World Lit Reply with quote
I've just ordered this book. Has anyone else read it? I am interested in it as it begins with a long and detailed analysis of Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji, which was a late Edo period best seller which I've wanted to take a closer look at for a long time, but as far as I know there's never been an English translation.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's an interview with the author
http://criticalmargins.com/2014/06/04/interview-michael-emmerich-author-tale-genji/
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Hosokawa Gracia
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:12 am    Post subject: Re: Tale of Genji, Translation, Canonization and World Lit Reply with quote
heron wrote:
I've just ordered this book. Has anyone else read it? I am interested in it as it begins with a long and detailed analysis of Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji, which was a late Edo period best seller which I've wanted to take a closer look at for a long time, but as far as I know there's never been an English translation.


Thanks, Heron. I had never heard of Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji. It seems as it was written for the average Taro and Hana in Edo. The mixing of art and script in its woodblock pages, sounds interesting.

I just read Michael Emmerich's interview, and found some rather doubtful conclusions he made. For example, I do not agree with him that The Tale of Genji became world literature before Japanese national literature. That is really a stretch, considering that The Tale of Genji has the importance in Japan from the Heian Period, which Shakespeare's plays had in England from Elizabethan Era. I also, do not agree with author Emmerich's assessment that "in the English-speaking world, the study of early modern Japanese literature is only just beginning to take up." Here's the comment I left on the interview site:

>>><<<

In the early decades of the 11th century Japan, the nobles at the Heian Imperial Court in Kyoto knew of and read The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) from the time Murasaki Shikibu's manuscript was written to the 21st century. Just as the highly prized poems called waka (and now tanka) were often written as messages between lovers. The waka which appear in abundance in the novel became a central part of the education for both noble males and females, and eventually in the rising class of samurai. The Japanese elite knew The Tale of Genji from the Heian, not from Meiji as author Emmerich avows.

Another famous classic, The Sarashina Diary, written by the daughter of a governor, told of the dream she had to read The Tale of Genji. She finally was given a copy from an aunt.

In the Meiji Period, Yosano Akiko, a famous tanka poet, spent part of her life translating The Tale of Genji, and her translation is still in circulation. Certainly, Tanazaki Junichiro's translation was well known, also.

Therefore, I am very doubtful that The Tale of Genji only became 'national literature' after it became world literature.

In addition, I do not agree with the author Emmerich's assessment that "in the English-speaking world, the study of early modern Japanese literature is only just beginning to take up." I have stacks of books on Japanese literature from classic through modern, which were written in the last half of the 20th century. Surely, there have been thousands of departments in Japanese literature in universities around the world since the 1950s. That was true of Sophia University in Tokyo, where I studied for my first degree. The growth of translators reveal this truth if you look at the titles of Tuttle and Kodansha International books alone.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
In the new(er) Monumenta Nipponica (68/1 I believe), the issue was devoted to two articles on Genji (because it seems Genji is the be-all end-all of most scholars involved in pre-modern Japanese studies these days-the level of scholarly geekdom around Genji never ceases to amaze me, with many of them referring to it simply as "The Book"). One of them was also by Emmerich, and they centered on vernacular translations of Genji (as well as translations into English) done in the late Edo/Meiji period and particularly the bestselling effort before WWII that really made it popular among common Japanese. It does seem that while Genji was certainly popular among court nobles and the idle elite down through the centuries, it didn't catch on with the masses in Japan until these vernacular translations.

I think the whole ""in the English-speaking world, the study of early modern Japanese literature is only just beginning to take up." is comparatively speaking. Up until the middle 90's the pre-modern sector of English scholarship seemed to be filled up with mostly institutional historians, but now seems to have few of them but an avalanche of literature scholars. Karl Friday has said that specializing in pre-modern Japanese history is seen as a dead end (unless it's centered on gender studies, I would add), but Buddhist and literature studies seem to be really hot.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I wondered about the same points but did not feel confident enough of the evidence to compose a response. I'm glad you did it, Gracia. I feel there are many passing references to Genji throughout the Edo period, and what about all the art based on the story?

That's an interesting distinction, Tatsu, between literary and history studies. Again without any hard and fast evidence it does seem there have been a lot more literature studies floating around lately. Three Meiji era literature studies I've purchased recently are In the Company of Men (2006), The Modern Murasaki (2006) and Lost Leaves (2000). But then my favourite of my books on Meiji lit is the life of Higuchi Ichiyo, In the Shade of Spring Leaves, first published 1981. And none of these are really early modern Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Good to read your responses, Heron and Takanoshi.

Reviewing Haruo Shirane's Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology 1600-1900, I would say that the most famous writer after Murasaki Shikibu, and during the early modern period was Ihara Saikaku. The top playwright was Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The early modern poets, Basho, Buson and Issa have not been surpassed in what was known as haikai no renga [linked poetry]}. However, in Meiji Shiki became the fourth of the top four, when he gave the name 'haiku' to what had been the first and most important verse of linked poetry.

Believe me, the numerous books on Basho alone are enough to proove that there is enormous interest Basho. I have two of the first translations of Basho's haibun (haiku with prose) Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) written by Nobuyuki Yuasa in 1966 and another translation A Haiku Journey: Narrow Road to a Far Province by Dorothy Britton in 1974. I was honored to get to know both of them in Japan and even introduce them to each other for the first time. There have been numerous newer translations, including Hiroaki Sato's Basho's Narrow Road in 1998.

Some of the literary experts, who have written on Basho are R.H. Blyth, Kenneth Yasuda, Donald Keene, Makoto Ueda and Haruo Shirane, among others. Considering the numbers of devoted haiku poets around the world, who have studied Basho and continue to study his work, there is no way that there are few studies on early modern Japanese literature, if haikai literature is included. I say this as a former secretary and VP of the Haiku Society of America.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
My copy of Emmerich's book arrived - it is a really beautiful production. I'll say some more about it when I've read a bit further. I like his style and he has some very interesting things to say.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I was wondering about the statement in the interview that the Tale of Genji became world literature before Japanese national literature. The author of the Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji apparently spent a lot of care on it. Why would he have gone to all that trouble on a book centuries old unless it was considered "literature," or why would he have expected it to sell? The work seems to presuppose that the reading public accepted it as something they ought to know about.

I also wonder if the article has poor editing. The interviewer towards the end asked for recommendations of translations, but that question was never answered.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Good point! You wouldn't write such a long 'parody' over so many years without knowing the original really well and expecting others to.

Quote:
I also wonder if the article has poor editing. The interviewer towards the end asked for recommendations of translations, but that question was never answered.

I was wondering that very thing - the style of the interview is so abrupt and almost dogmatic whereas the book is thoughtful, witty and very well argued, so far. And he explains in far more detail what he means, which I'll go into when I've read a bit more
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Perhaps, the interviewer was asking the wrong questions. She expected Emmerich to be an expert on The Tale of Genji, when his purpose in the interview was to highlight Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji, its popularity and art, and of course, his book.

Toranosuke's review of Emmerich's The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature is a much more positive. http://chaari.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/the-tale-of-genji-inaka-genji-and-the-canon/
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the mention. I'm not sure I say anything too much in that post that goes too far beyond summarizing what I got out of the interview article, but...

As for the question of whether Genji was or wasn't well-known throughout Japanese history, I suppose the question is, well-known by whom? As I mention briefly in the blog post, and as has been mentioned already in this thread, among certain sections of society, references to the Genji certainly did continue, continuously, down through history. People quoted and referenced the Genji in their poetry, paintings, and the like. Quite a few Noh places reference the Genji, too. But, that's just the elites at court, and later, the samurai.

Who outside of the court had ever heard of the Genji, let alone read it or knew it thoroughly, in the 11th century? In the 13th? In the 15th? I'm guessing (I haven't read Emmerich's book) that this is what Emmerich is talking about - that it didn't become /widely/ known, popularly known, until Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji made it known.

Skimming over the list of kabuki plays at Kabuki21.com, not a single one jumps out at me as being the name of a character or chapter or episode of the Genji; I certainly might have missed one, or more, but in a brief skim, that's what I got. Only the 1950s Kabuki Genji Monogatari comes up, and that's obviously much later.

Even so, there certainly were plenty of ukiyo-e prints referencing the Genji. But, were those chiefly/solely printed after the Nise Murasaki came out? I dunno... In the end, I have no idea if it's true that the Genji wasn't widely, popularly, well-known until the Nise Murasaki, but if it is true, it's certainly interesting.

I'm curious to see what Emmerich says about the parody point that Heron brings up. The standard interpretation is, as you say, that both author and audience would need to know the story in order to appreciate the parody. But, in the interview, Emmerich suggests that the Nise Murasaki was a humorous introduction to the story for the popular reader... could that work? does that make sense? does that explanation satisfy? I wonder what more he says on this matter in the book.

Finally, as for the question of "national literature," I think we need to remember that the nation, and "literature" (文学), are both Meiji concepts. So, however well-known the story might have been up until then, I don't know that most people in Edo pd Japan, or earlier, would have seen it as a "Japanese" story, as an example of the greatest Japan had to offer, instead perhaps seeing it as a story belonging to the aristocracy, or the Court, or to Kyoto. That is, until the Meiji period, when suddenly there was (a) a concept of a single, united "Japan" as a single culture, a single people, a single nation in the world, (b) a concept that each great nation had a great national canon of artistic products. It was in the Meiji period that not only "literature" but also "art" (美術) and certain other related concepts came into vogue... and there was a feeling of a need to have a Japanese literary canon, and a national art form, and a canon of great Japanese art works, in order to compare or compete against the great works of English literature, French art, etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Finally, as for the question of "national literature," I think we need to remember that the nation, and "literature" (文学), are both Meiji concepts. So, however well-known the story might have been up until then, I don't know that most people in Edo pd Japan, or earlier, would have seen it as a "Japanese" story, as an example of the greatest Japan had to offer, instead perhaps seeing it as a story belonging to the aristocracy, or the Court, or to Kyoto. That is, until the Meiji period, when suddenly there was (a) a concept of a single, united "Japan" as a single culture, a single people, a single nation in the world, (b) a concept that each great nation had a great national canon of artistic products. It was in the Meiji period that not only "literature" but also "art" (美術) and certain other related concepts came into vogue... and there was a feeling of a need to have a Japanese literary canon, and a national art form, and a canon of great Japanese art works, in order to compare or compete against the great works of English literature, French art, etc.


Hmmm, I'm not completely in agreement with your last paragraph. The Tokugawa united Japan. And in building that single nation, foreigners were exiled, Christians were killed or forced to hide. Wasn't Edo united by the near absence of war, the flowering of art, haikai no renga and theater? Even though the country was divided by each han, didn't the housing of daimyo in Edo, work most of the time, until Choshu, Satsuma, Tosa and othera began fighting again and came to dominate and overthrow the Tokugawa regime?

Wasn't the The Tale of Genji, Heike Monogatari, the anthologies of waka, and the theater of Chikamatsu part of the pride of many merchants who aspired to own art and write poetry in the Edo Period?

Art flourished in the Heian, Muramachi and Edo Periods. I would imagine that the art of these former periods was regarded with pride, and may have been a deterrent (for some) against the incoming Western art. Whereas, the Ukiyo-e was not considered great art until foreigners bought (stole) and lent them to foreign museums.

My inclination is to see Edo period basically as a time of peace, while Meiji was full of cultural clashes between what was Japanese and what was Western. For in Meiji, by the 1880s, there was a backlash towards the West in many ways. Even the fresh-faced Meiji elite turned into Prussian-styled nationalists as the army grew to battle China, Russia and Korea.

My writing is a bit of literature and history rolled together. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hosokawa Gracia wrote:
...until foreigners bought (stole)...


Isn't that just a tad harsh Wink ? Ukiyo-e prints began to gain their popularity in the West when they were used as packing material for exports (especially ceramics). They were so disposable Japanese merchants thought no more of using them for filler than my wife does today when she uses our daily newspaper for the same purpose when she sends me stuff. Westerners unpacking shipments found them fascinating, however (just like I enjoy unballing the packing and checking out the news in Kyoto). One of the reasons so many Ukiyo-e survive today is because Westerners valued, loved and collected them, which in turn increased their popularity in Japan.

And there really wasn't much (if any) in the way of theft of Japanese art objects by Westerners during the Bakumatsu/Meiji period (unlike right after WWII where 'souvenir/treasure hunting/confiscating' was all the rage for a while). Unfortunately, many Japanese at the time in their haste to Westernize had so little regard for their own culture and heritage that they were only too happy to sell off scrolls, armor, swords, books, and other works of art to eager Westerners for next to nothing. Castles and temples were sold by the government to lumber dealers for virtually nothing-as low as $25 for the infrastructure of a large castle. I wouldn't call this stealing by Westerners as much as I would a shortsighted attitude by the government and people of Japan.

As to Japan's sense of national identity during the Edo period, I liken it to the European Union of today. Each daimyo could pretty much run his 'state' the way he wanted without interference from the Bakufu (while having to follow certain rules of the Shogunate), and their people were generally not allowed to move out of their area. You would generally think of yourself as being from Satsuma, Aizu, Sendai, Osaka, or Edo rather than being from Japan.

And while I agree that "...The Tale of Genji, Heike Monogatari, the anthologies of waka, and the theater of Chikamatsu (were) part of the pride of many merchants who aspired to own art and write poetry in the Edo Period...", I'd point out that many of these merchants bought them for status reasons and in many cases couldn't even read them. While low in status on the official hierarchy, merchants who could afford this stuff actually had a good deal of practical rank and status, putting them among the elite. These works were written in archaic language that the commoners couldn't understand. I find merit in the argument that they didn't begin to find traction among the non-elite until they began to be put in venacular form in the late Edo period.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi: "One of the reasons so many Ukiyo-e survive today is because Westerners valued, loved and collected them, which in turn increased their popularity in Japan."

I agree with you. That was basically what I was saying. I just added the word 'stole' to be realistic about what some the riff-raff living in Yokohama may have done. Smile Take the word 'stole' out and we are on the same page.

Tatsunoshi: "As to Japan's sense of national identity during the Edo period, I liken it to the European Union of today. Each daimyo could pretty much run his 'state' the way he wanted without interference from the Bakufu (while having to follow certain rules of the Shogunate), and their people were generally not allowed to move out of their area. You would generally think of yourself as being from Satsuma, Aizu, Sendai, Osaka, or Edo rather than being from Japan."

Well, that's true to a certain extent, but even if there wasn't a concept of 'a nation state' until Meiji, when samurai fought against the Mongols in the Kamakura Era, or when Hideyoshi's forces invaded Korea, their samurai were from different hans, but must have had pride in their united identity as a country and a race, not only their han. And even now that mentality of 'them and us' is naturally very much alive in Japan (as other countries).

I'm not sure if this is meaningful to anyone else, but I hear Japanese say, "We Japanese are _____." or "Japanese culture is _____." Time and time again. Yet I hear Americans say, "America is ______," more often than not. It makes me think that it has always been this way. Does one put their country first or one's race and/or culture first? Could this be one of the reasons that there was no concept of a nation? Just my two cents.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hosokawa Gracia wrote:
Well, that's true to a certain extent, but even if there wasn't a concept of 'a nation state' until Meiji, when samurai fought against the Mongols in the Kamakura Era, or when Hideyoshi's forces invaded Korea, their samurai were from different hans, but must have had pride in their united identity as a country and a race, not only their han. And even now that mentality of 'them and us' is naturally very much alive in Japan (as other countries).


Specializing in the late Heian/Kamakura period, I can tell you that they indeed recognized that they were part of a larger whole (with the Emperor usually being at the center of that and race indeed being a major factor), but the emphasis was still on their Lord/their domain, or even seeing a subset of what is now Japan-say, their particular island as the 'larger whole' (especially in Kyushu) or even a political construct like the Kamakura Shogunate. In many ways it would have been like being a state of the Holy Roman Empire, and the reaction to the Mongol invasions much like a feudal version of NATO. In many ways it's just splitting hairs-knowing that they were part of something bigger versus the modern concept of the nation state. You even see some of that in the USA's early history-where pre-Civil War the individual states often saw themselves as being outside and above the 'Union', and indeed people like Robert E Lee were referring to their states when they were talking about 'their country'. I do think you're right that an 'us against them' attitude prevailed, but the lines drawn would become blurry over time and different situations. Us was the Minamoto and Taira allies, them was the Taira with Minamoto allies. Us was Minamoto Yoritomo, them was Minamoto Yoshinaka. Us was the Hojo and allies, them was the disgruntled samurai siding with the Emperor. Us was Nihon, them was the Mongols. Us was the Northern court and their samurai, them was the Southern court and their samurai. Us was Nobunaga and Ieyasu, them was the Anti-Nobunaga alliance. Us was the Chiba and the Go-Hojo, them was Hideyoshi and his hordes. Us was the Eastern army, them was the Western. Us was the bakufu, them was the traitorous tozama. And after the emergence of the Japanese nation state, Japan finally became the 'us' for good. Maybe one day it will become Us is United World, them are the Outer Space Invaders. Perhaps it's your enemies that do indeed define what you mostly identify with.

As it relates to literature, the Chinese classics and Buddhist art from China and Korea tended to be as popular (even more so) as Japanese produced efforts up until late Edo, so I'm not sure that there was a special consideration given to Japanese lit/art among those that enjoyed it. Of course, that's not my field, but temples and collections of the time tend to place more value on Chinese works of art (perhaps as a function of the increased difficulty in procuring them).

It's all quite interesting, and in the days of an increasingly global economy, how long will it be before individual nations identify more with their confederations than the nation? Many businesses certainly already do.

Hosokawa Gracia wrote:
I'm not sure if this is meaningful to anyone else, but I hear Japanese say, "We Japanese are _____." or "Japanese culture is _____." Time and time again. Yet I hear Americans say, "America is ______," more often than not. It makes me think that it has always been this way. Does one put their country first or one's race and/or culture first? Could this be one of the reasons that there was no concept of a nation? Just my two cents.


It might be context-I know when I'm talking to other Americans, I generally use 'America' but use 'Americans' when talking to Japanese.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Yet I hear Americans say, "America is ______,"


It's my understanding that all the way up until the Civil War (the 1860s), Americans generally spoke of "the United States are," and not "the United States is," by which I mean to say, there was a much stronger sense of identifying not with the US as a single entity, a single identity, but rather a sense of identifying with one's state (e.g. Massachusetts, Virginia) as the key political entity. It can be very easy to take current attitudes and assume them backwards in time - according to my friends in US History, it really wasn't that long ago that Americans conceived of their nation in a very different way.

I see the Edo period in much the same light. Yes, of course, there was some sense of "we Japanese" or "we are all Japanese," perhaps linked more strongly to class (we samurai) than to all people across class. And, indeed, that there was at least some degree of national awareness and sense of community identity is fundamental to the arguments I make in my MA thesis. But, let us remember that political unification doesn't mean that all the people throughout the country identified with that unified entity, or unified identity. And if an artwork, or cultural reference, is widespread in Edo or Kyoto, or if it is widespread among a certain class, that doesn't mean it was widespread among all classes.

I guess I'm on the fence about this one now, not sure whether to believe that knowledge of the Genji was, or was not, widespread. I guess I'll have to wait until I can read Michael's book (or just get a chance to talk to him about it).
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
I guess I'm on the fence about this one now, not sure whether to believe that knowledge of the Genji was, or was not, widespread. I guess I'll have to wait until I can read Michael's book (or just get a chance to talk to him about it).


Yes Lordmeth, that would be a good idea. It is easy to speculate that the average Taro and Hana in Edo knew of a novel called Genji Monogatari or Heike Monogatari. However, very few townspeople or country folk would have had the ability to read unless they had gone to a temple school, but it's not impossible. Rakugo entertainers may have alluded to Genji in their punch lines, while actors who traveled from town to town may have mentioned his name. In those ways, Genji would have been a part of the 'common knowledge' of Edoko, though not read.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
You might find this enlightening, if you've not read it. John
http://www.indiana.edu/~easc/publications/doc/CRJEHVolume3.pdf
One telling conclusion was; 80 to 90% of the homeowner class in Kyoto and Nagasaki in the 1630's was literate. In Kyoto the tenant class was as literate as the homeowner class.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
You might find this enlightening, if you've not read it. John
http://www.indiana.edu/~easc/publications/doc/CRJEHVolume3.pdf
One telling conclusion was; 80 to 90% of the homeowner class in Kyoto and Nagasaki in the 1630's was literate. In Kyoto the tenant class was as literate as the homeowner class.



Thanks for this, shin no sen. The focus on writing for learning is definitely a major part of education in Japan, so it does not seem far fetched to imagine that literacy was more prevalent earlier on. There are many countries which focus on reciting, discussing, debate, storytelling and/or speeches as a focus for learning.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
My copy of Emmerich's book arrived - it is a really beautiful production. I'll say some more about it when I've read a bit further. I like his style and he has some very interesting things to say.



This complete conversation thread has been very interesting! I hope I wasn't too hard on Emmerich's comments in that article. Since he is much younger, he didn't experience the enormous post-war interest in Heian, Medival, Tokugawa, and Meiji literature, including poetry, not to mention pre-war interest.

Heron, I'd like to hear your opinion of Emmerich's book. I'm sure it is very creative in its own right.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It really is a fascinating book, full of insights and giving access to an art form (the goukan) which is fairly inaccessible now to both Japanese and Western readers. I can understand why Emmerich was so taken with Inaka Genji. Look at the images on Google - the books were just ravishing. You get quite a good idea from this book, which is, as he says, very fully illustrated, but I wish they had been able to give us just a couple of full colour plates. He is very good at analysing pictures and showing how full of meaning they are in their own right.

Inaka Genji was a huge best seller, and probably was more widely read in the 19th c. than Genji Monogatari. At the time it was much more accessible. It was only after English and modern Japanese translations became available that GM became widely known as the example of world literature that we are familiar with today. There's a brilliant chapter on how many Western pundits commented on GM and Murasaki without knowing anything about the text or the author, and quoted the same comments from each other over and over again. The unfair remark cette ennuyeuse Scudery Japonnaise, is one such, that everyone was happy to repeat, but was in fact never actually said quite like that.

The author of IG, Ryutei Tanehiko, was a pretty interesting person. We would know very little about him if it were not for his ongoing rivalry with the competitive and waspish Bakkin (The Eight Dog Warriors). Bakkin quite often mentions Tanehiko in his diaries, envious no doubt of his huge sales. I became quite fascinated with the characters and the period. It was a golden age for writers and artists in many ways before the problems of the 1830s and the restrictions of the Tenpo Reforms in the 1840s. I found a very good biography of Tanehiko by Andrew Markus, The Willow in Autumn. Reading these two books in tandem has been a fantastic and illuminating experience. I'm planning to write something longer about them both, when I find the time.

It also made me think a lot about the situation, very common in our times, when a 'parody' or a remake focus attention back onto the original, rather like The Magnificent Seven did for The Seven Samurai. People enjoyed the former without ever knowing anything about the latter, but would Seven Samurai have become the well known classic of world cinema without TMS?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm pretty sure Seven Samurai was already being hailed as a classic before the Magnificent Seven (based on the extras on the deluxe boxed DVD set as well as Joan Mellen's book on it). It was up for Oscars in the USA in 1957 and won all kinds of awards around the world before 1960 (when Magnificent Seven was released). Just like Yojimbo (For A Fistful of Dollars), I think that the worldwide fame is what prompted the 'Western' (literally) remakes.

I do agree with you that Inaka Genji was what made "The Tale Of Genji" extremely popular in Japan and brought the original back to the public's attention.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Seven Samurai was being hailed as a classic, no argument there, but what brought it into the wider consciousness of ordinary people of all ages (like me in the early 60s) was TMS. There has to be some fame for the remake/'parody' to connect (and happen in the first place).
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