Wednesday, 9 January 2019

№ 18 reading list: Japanese literature II

№ 18 reading list: Japanese literature II · Lisa Hjalt

New Year, new Japanese reading list, finally. Some of you have been waiting for this one. I had nailed down the list but had to make a couple of adjustments, as two English translations of books I wanted to read now were unavailable at the library; they will be on the third one. The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon is, like The Tale of Genji which was on the first, a classic by a Japanese lady of the court, written around the year 1000, during the Heian period in Japanese history. I know of an English translation by Ivan Morris, published in 1967, but I'm reading a newer one by Meredith McKinney, published by Penguin Classics.

№ 18 reading list:
· The Pillow Book  by Sei Shonagon
· No Longer Human  by Osamu Dazai
· Scandal  by Shusaku Endo
· The Old Capital  by Yasunari Kawabata
· Quicksand  by Junichiro Tanizaki
· Death in Midsummer and Other Stories  by Yukio Mishima
· Lost Japan  by Alex Kerr

Translated by, in this order: 1) Meredith McKinney 2) Donald Keene 3) Van C. Gessel 4) J. Martin Holman 5) Howard Hibbett 6) Edward G. Seidensticker, Ivan Morris et al. 7) Alex Kerr and Bodhi Fishman (non-fiction)

The blog post title says Japanese literature but this time I had to add one non-fiction to the list, Lost Japan by Alex Kerr, originally written in Japanese. You may have seen it already on my Instagram. It was a Christmas present from my oldest, who also gave me Edward W. Said's Orientalism. She chose well, right? Most of the books on the list are relatively short - I have almost finished three - so you can expect me sharing another reading list at the beginning of February. Happy New Year!

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  1. I hope you will share your impressions on these books! I read "Lost Japan" before my first trip there and found it full of useful insights. Kerr may sound grumpy or preachy, but to me he's right about the Japanese being too careless about their heritage. And last November I hiked up to his house in Iya Valley to have a peak (I wasn't staying there). Beautiful house and surroundings!

  2. Hi Inga. I will share my impressions on the blog one day. How fantastic that you were able to travel to the Iya Valley! I enjoyed Kerr's book, I think he grounded slightly the idealistic view I may have had about Japanese culture. When one has never travelled there, I think it's easy to imagine most of it Zen-like, if you know what I mean (I'm of course not referring to life in the big cities). On this second Japanese reading list there were two works that weren't my cup of tea; Mishima's story collection and Dazai's novel (I meant to read another book by him which wasn't available at the library).


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