Here are two hundred and twenty dazzling tales from medieval Japan, tales that welcome us into a fabulous, faraway world populated by saints and scoundrels, ghosts and magical healers, and a vast assortment of deities and demons. Stories of miracles, visions of hell, jokes, fables, and legends, these tales reflect the Japanese worldview during a classic period in Japanese civilization. Masterfully edited and translated by the acclaimed translator of The Tale of Genji, these stories ably balance the lyrical and the dramatic, the ribald and the profound, offering a window into a long-vanished though perennially fascinating culture.
These legends and popular tales220 in all, ranging from one to three pagesopen windows upon tradition and reality in medieval Japan. These vigorously and colloquially translated tales recall worlds conjured by Chaucer, Boccaccio, Perrault, and Grimm; East and West meet in common pursuit of ways to endure social and natural adversity. The social adversaries are often robbers, miscreant monks, or retired emperorsbut above all women, especially when disguised as foxes. The natural adversaries are ghosts and demons, snakes and dragons. One survives them all by wit and faithand a dollop of good luck. The Japanese tale shares with the German elements of violence and vulgarity but is finally closest to the hearty bawdiness and comic earthiness of the French and the English tales. Arthur Waldhorn, English Dept., City Coll., CUNY