Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm working on a doctoral dissertation dealing with old (13th-19th century) commentaries on the Tale of Genji.  My main motivation for creating this blog is sort of a personal journal to write my thoughts as I read through the Genji in the original.  As I write this I've read the first 16 chapters so the blog will be starting with Chapter 17, 絵合 (Eawase, The Picture Contest).

I plan on writing some other types of Genji-related posts as well.  Some of the ideas I have:
  1. A translation (and probably text) of Hagiwara Hiromichi's Genji monogatari hyoshaku (1854-1861).  Hagiwara was the last of the classical commentators on Genji and his commentary has a lot that's still relevant even for modern readers.
  2. A readthrough of the Yomei bunko Genji monogatari (陽明文庫).  This text is one of several Genji texts that differs significantly from the group of texts that most editions of the Genji are based on.  However, it is very close to the earliest 12th-century textual fragments of the Genji we have, suggesting this preserves a late-Heian version of the Genji.  Whether this late-Heian version is closer to the "original" or not we'll never know, but it's interesting to look at.
  3. While working on my dissertation, which involves a lot of closely analytical, literal translations, I also tried to make a translation of "Kiritsubo" that didn't use any footnotes at all, but used the device of the narrator to put a lot of the crucial annotation directly into the text of the Tale -- sort of like a Waley version for the 21st century.  I could post this as well.
And who knows, maybe some other ideas as well.  To get the absolute most out of these posts it's probably necessary to know classical Japanese, but even if you've just read Genji in a translation it should be possible to follow most of this.