Books

The Tale of the Heike

Royall Tyler (and others)

The Tale of the Heike is Japan's great martial epic: a masterpiece of world literature and the progenitor of all samurai stories. This major and groundbreaking new Penguin translation is by Royall Tyler, acclaimed translator of The Tale of Genji.

First assembled from scattered oral poems in the early fourteenth century, The Tale of the Heike is Japan's Iliad - a grand-scale depiction of the wars between the Heike and Genji clans. Legendary for its magnificent and vivid set battle scenes, it is also a work filled with intimate human dramas and emotions, contemplating Buddhist themes of suffering and separation, as well as universal insights into love, loss and loyalty. The narrative moves back and forth between the two great warring clans, between aristocratic society and street life, adults and children, great crowds and introspection. No Japanese work has had a greater impact on subsequent literature, theatre, music and films, or on Japan's sense of its own past.

Royall Tyler's new translation is the first to capture the way The Tale of the Heike was originally performed. It re-creates the work in its full operatic form, with speech, poetry, blank verse and song that convey its character as an oral epic in a way not seen before, fully embracing the rich and vigorous language of the original texts. Beautifully illustrated with fifty-five woodcuts from the nineteenth-century artistic master, Katsushika Hokusai, and bolstered with maps, character guides, genealogies and rich annotation, this is a landmark edition.

Royall Tyler taught Japanese language and literature for many years at the Australian National University. He has a B.A. from Harvard University and a PhD from Columbia University and has taught at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Wisconsin. His translation of The Tale of Genji was acclaimed by publications such as The New York Times Book Review.

The Tale of Genji

Murasaki Shikibu (and others)

The first complete new translation for 25 years of the acknowledged masterpiece of Japanese literature. Lady Murasaki's great 11th century novel is a beautifully crafted story of love, betrayal and death at the Imperial Court. At the core of this epic is Prince Genji, the son of an emperor, whose passionate character, love affairs and shifting political fortunes, offer an equisite glimpse of the golden age of Japan. Royal Tyler's superb new translation is scrupulously true to the Japanese original but appeals immeadiately to the modern reader. This edition also includes notes, glossaries, character lists and a chronology to enable the reader to appreciate the richness of this classic of world literature.

Japanese No Dramas

Royall Tyler (and others)

Japanese nõ theatre or the drama of 'perfected art' flourished in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries largely through the genius of the dramatist Zeami. An intricate fusion of music, dance, mask, costume and language, the dramas address many subjects, but the idea of 'form' is more central than 'meaning' and their structure is always ritualized. Selected for their literary merit, the twenty-four plays in this volume dramatize such ideas as the relationship between men and the gods, brother and sister, parent and child, lover and beloved, and the power of greed and desire. Revered in Japan as a cultural treasure, the spiritual and sensuous beauty of these works has been a profound influence for English-speaking artists including W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound and Benjamin Britten.

Biography

Murasaki Shikibu (c. 970-1015) was a member of one of the most powerful dynasties in Japan and the author of a diary which reveals much about court life in Japan. Royall Tyler taught Japanese religion and literature at the Australian National University and has published widely on Japanese literature. He translated Japanese No Dramas for Penguin Classics.