Heike Monogatari. – Hiroshi Kitagawa & Bruce T. Tsuchida (transl.). – Seidensticker, Edward (foreword by):
The Tale of the Heike. Volume 1 and 2 COMPLETE SET of the complete translation
University of Tokyo Press, 1978 (1977 / 1975). 8vo in softcover. XLI, 806 pp. Red endpapers. Spines sunned else very good clean set with only minor shelfwear
Second paperback printing 1978 of the first complete translation into English. – The Tale of the Heike is one of the masterworks of Japanese literature, a great martial epic and a masterpiece of world literature and the progenitor of all samurai stories: “The story of the Heike was compiled from a collection of oral stories recited by travelling monks who chanted to the accompaniment of the biwa, an instrument reminiscent of the lute. The most widely read version of the Heike monogatari was compiled by a blind monk named Kakuichi, in 1371. The Heike is considered one of the great classics of Medieval Japanese literature. Two main strands feed into the central ethos of the tale, samurai and buddhist. At one level, the Tale is an account of martial heroism – of courage, cruelty, power, glory, sacrifice and sorrow. Those who emphasise this aspect of the story point to its glorification of the heroic spirit, its avoidance of the realistic brutality and squalor of war, and its aestheticisation of death: a classic instance of the latter is the comparison of the drowned samurai in the final battle to a maple-leaf brocade upon the waves. Others, while still accepting the importance of the military episodes and of heroic figures like Yoshitsune, would emphasise instead the Tale’s immersion in Buddhist thought, and its themes of duty, Dharma, and fate”.