This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: of how quickly the years had gone by, each with the
same unsatisfied longing. The old, inexhaustible sadness came back, and I
went through the rites for my ancestors, but absent-mindedly. In the very next, and last, line of the book, however, we are told that
“Late on the eve of the new year there was a pounding outside . . .” and
realize that Kaneie’s interest in the mother of Michitsuna is not entirely
Another type of contemporary literature very similar to the private
diary was the poem-tale (uta-monogatari), the most celebrated of which
is The Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari), compiled sometime in the early tenth The Court at Its Zenith 64 century. The Tales of Ise consists of 125 passages or episodes of varying
length, loosely grouped together, and each containing one or more
poems. Most of the poems deal with love, and particularly with the
romantic adventures of a great court lover and poet of the previous century, Ariwara no Narihira (825–80). Quite likely The Tales of Ise was
compiled by one or more persons who gathered a collection of poems,
most of them by Narihira, and then placed them in narrative contexts by
drawing on biographical information concerning Narihira’s life. To the
foreigner, The Tales of Ise is apt to seem like a light and even insignificant
work, but it has been venerated by the Japanese through the centuries as
one of the greatest masterpieces in their literature. A typical passage
from The Tales of Ise goes like this:
In former times there lived a young nobleman named Narihira. Upon receiving the ceremony of initiation into manhood, he set forth upon a ceremonial
falconry excursion, to review his estates at the village of Kasuga, near the
former capital of Nara.
In the village there dwelt alone two young sisters possessed of a disturbing
beauty. The young nobleman gazed at the two secretly from the shade of the
enclosure around their house. It filled his heart with longing that in this rustic village he should have found so unexpectedly such lovely maidens.
Removing the wide sleeve from the silk cloak he was wearing, Narihira...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13