Friday, December 14, 2012

Idea for Genji "edition"

I alluded to this in the first post I made, but something else I was considering doing was an "edition", so to speak, of the original text with some relatively brief and simple annotation in English that would help people who aren't classical Japanese experts make sense of it.

Rather than just using the usual texts everyone uses, I was considering two possibilities:

1. Either the 尾州家本 or the 飯島本; both of these are interesting in that they are two of only a tiny number of manuscripts that have all 54 chapters written by the same person, with no missing chapters or chapters added later.  The 尾州家 is considered the best of the much-maligned 河内本 family of manuscripts (and is a very early Kamakura manuscript, making it quite old as well).  The 飯島本 is a mix.

2. The other idea I thought would be interesting is to do the 陽明文庫本 text.  This is a text that seems to preserve the state of the text in the late-12th century, before the work of scholars like Teika and Minamoto no Mitsuyuki that helped shape the text we have today.  Although the story and characters are the same, there are hundreds of differences per chapter in style and diction. 

If either of these sound interesting let me know -- of course I'll never finish any of these projects but why let that stop me?


  1. They both sound interesting to me! I wonder though if there isn't a mismatch between target audience and content. If you aren't a classical Japanese expert, you aren't going to get much out of reading the alternate texts (that you wouldn't get simply from reading a more standard one); and conversely if you are a classical Japanese expert you'll probably want a more rigorous apparatus than a non-expert would need (and conversely annotations in English might be more annoying than helpful). It would surely take a lot of very careful planning and design to come up with something that would satisfy both types of reader.

    1. Yeah, good point. I think the problem is that there's too much stuff I want to do and I guess I was thinking to combine two of them but maybe you're right. I'm not sure who the target audience would be for the yomei-bunko text, though.

      Incidentally I was wrong with what I said above; the bishu-ke is not all by the same person and there are some later added chapters, and I believe the Iijima-bon is also not all by the same person. Even if it was, it was clearly copied from multiple texts so it's still a composite. Apparently the Library of Congress has a 54-volume Genji that might be by the same person although I'm not sure.

      (BTW I've been busy with a school presentation that I just finished today so I hope to get back to updates tomorrow or the day after.)