Tales of tears and laughter : short fiction of Medieval Japan /
translated by Virginia Skord.
Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, c1991.
vi, 22 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
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Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press, c1991.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 221-222).
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-07:
The 13 stories in this volume date from the late 15th to the early 17th century and were chosen for their "human interest." The title suggests a balanced mixture but only one story is somber, the others are all light-hearted. A few are parodies of serious genres; others depict human foibles with a blend of sympathy and contempt. The introduction provides a good overview of the historical context of these stories but the translator does not offer anything new to contemporary scholarship on this literature. In several cases the brief notes that introduce each tale do not adequately explain the conventions that have influenced the stories. The text seems to have been intended for general readers, and they will undoubtedly find the tales enjoyable but also rather perplexing. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Japanese literature because these are good translations of interesting tales previously unavailable in English.-M. H. Childs, University of Kansas
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1991-09-06:
As Skord explains in her helpful introduction, the term otogi-zoshi (literally, ``companion booklets'' or ``companion stories'') encompasses a body of about 400 short and thematically varied Japanese narratives from the late 1300s to the early 1800s, and Skord has chosen 13 examples here. Although who authored and who read these works remain unknown, it is Skord's convincing argument that the tales ``represent a cross section of medieval Japan in all its richness and complexity . . . teeming with all the possibilities and contradictions of the age.'' Aided by endnotes, the reader can glimpse a realm in which indiscretion is a worse sin than adultery, in which appreciation of poetry defines a person's character. The tales are, as the title suggests, alternately comical and serious, scatological and openly didactic; all possess clear charm and a certain immediacy. At the same time they are slightly impenetrable for Westerners, often concluding with abrupt homilies or other shifts in tone, but this distancing effect proves alluring rather than alienating. Skord, a professor of Asian studies at Manhattanville College, has adapted this elusive form with energy and imagination. Illustrations. (Oct.)
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, September 1991
University Press Book News, December 1991
Choice, July 1992
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