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The Tale of the Heike Paperback – Mar 1 1990
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From Library Journal
The great Japanese civil war in the latter half of the 12th century between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) ended with the Minamoto victory at Dan-no-Ura in 1185. The story became the subject of many compositions, crystallizing in the Kakuichi version of 1371, of which this is a translation. It is handled very clearly and efficiently, with an extensive glossary, chronology, and lengthy discourse on the work from a literary point of view that helps the reader get a grasp of what is, to Western eyes, a somewhat disjointed and episodic narrative. It is good to have a bright new translation to stand beside Seidensticker's Tale of Genji , representing the two great Japanese epics. Donald J. Pearce, Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth, Lib.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have found that the best way to read the book is to treat oneself to the episodic nature of the chapters. This reflects the original format of the story; that it was expressed in minstrel style story-telling by the "biwa-hoshi" in nightly recitals. As such each segment of the story can be treated like individual pearls in a string, each complete and entertaining by its own merit but strung together to form the whole epic saga of the Heike. Attempts to read the book in the style of a conventional Western novel with its continuous narrative will result in frustration since the story seem to take many didactic excursions and side plots. This may also have been the rootcause to the earlier frustration of another reviewer who encountered too many characters to comprehend at one single reading. A similar experience can be found if a first time reader tries to read the Bible continuously from Genesis to Revelation.
The other great challenge in this translation is in its reference to the characters of the story. The long titles accorded to each individual felt cumbersome and unnecessary at first but as I continued reading I began to appreciate that the original narrators of the tale were relating to the traditional Japanese audience, not the modern reader.Read more ›
McCullough's translation is very good; her prose is compact, but maintains the poetic quality of the original texts with a minimum of distracting footnotes.
I cannot recommend this enough for those interested in the Gempei wars, as it contains a masterful blend of both interpretation and translation of the source material.
Most recent customer reviews
But Helen McCullough left me feeling like not all the translations made it through with all their meanings intact. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2003
i read the book and thought it was very very good sometimes it was hard to follow the plot.translating this book must have been very hard to do for i should now because Helen C. Read morePublished on July 1 2003