Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Murasaki Shikibu

It took until the 20th century before a complete English-language version appeared. Arthur Waley, a Cambridge classicist who taught himself Japanese and Chinese, produced the first English translation in six instalments between 1925 and 1933. Waley was much more interested in readability than fidelity. ...

In 1976 Edward Seidensticker, an academic already celebrated for his translations of Yasunari Kawabata, a Nobel prize-winning novelist, brought out a new version. Torn between admiration for Waley’s narrative verve and horror at the liberties he had taken with the text, Seidensticker produced a Genji that was doggedly faithful but a little lacking in grace.

It was left to Royall Tyler, whose charming and urbane Genji came out in 2001, to chart the course between the exuberance and the exactitude of his two predecessors. --The Economist, Playboy of the eastern world: The first modern novel celebrates its 1,000th birthday, December 18, 2008

Murasaki Shikibu, by Royall Tyler, Harvard, May-June 2002

most people who have read it agree that it is probably the world’s greatest novel. --Kenneth Rexroth The Tale of Genji, Classics Revisited (1968)

The World of Genji, review by Kenneth Rexroth of The World of the Shining Prince, by Ivan Morris, Chicago Tribune, November 29, 1964

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