Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 21
Genji monogatari: Reception and Translation
Organizer / Chair: Lawrence E. Marceau, University of Delaware

After much pleading and praying, a young woman newly arrived in the Capital is finally presented with a box containing the "fifty-some" scrolls of the Genji monogatari. She reads the text day and night until she knows passages by heart, dreaming of growing up to be as beautiful as Yûgao or Ukifune. This famous passage of the Sarashina nikki is an early example of its reception, ca. 1020, bearing witness to the fascination that Murasaki Shikibu's work has continued to exert on readers across the centuries. This panel will look at four episodes in the complex reception of the work. Michael Jamentz presents new findings about a twelfth-century Buddhist invocation to Genji monogatari. Lawrence Marceau examines how the eighteenth-century scholar Motoori Norinaga "filled in a gap" in the Genji by writing his own account, called Tamakura, of the love affair between the young Genji and Rokujô. Reception through modern Japanese and foreign language translation is the topic of the papers by Machiko Midorikawa and Charles DeWolf. Both address issues raised by the new complete translation by Royall Tyler (2001). Gaye Rowley will act as discussant.

1) Michael Jamentz, Ritsumeikan University. "On the Sponsorship of the Genji ipponkyô hyôbyaku"

The twelfth-century "Genji ipponkyô hyôbyaku" composed by the Buddhist prelate Chôken is considered a landmark in the reception of the Genji monogatari. The identity of its sponsor has aroused much speculation, with Bifukumon'in Kaga, the mother of Fujiwara no Teika, often suggested as a possible candidate. This paper will introduce new evidence: a text of the"Genji ipponkyô hyôbyaku" found in a hitherto largely ignored manuscript possessed by the Shakamon-in on Mt. Kôya. This text identifies the sponsor as "In Nyôbô Tosa no Naishi" and reconfirms the nature of the offering made on behalf of Murasaki Shikibu at the service for which the hyôbyaku was composed. The Shakamon-in manuscript makes clear that Tosa no Naishi was a leading figure in a project to create images from the Genji monogatari that were painted on the frontispieces of dedicatory scrolls of the Lotus Sutra. As the sponsor had previously been unidentified, this text can provide significant insights into the reception of the Genji and the history of its pictorial representation. Furthermore, in focusing on the question of the exact identity of the sponsor and the court she served, it is possible to illuminate the twelfth-century environment in which the tale was transformed from an entertaining pastime into an object of study, and thereby assumed the status of literary classic.

2) Lawrence E. Marceau, University of Delaware. "Norinaga's Tamakura: How to Improve on a Classic?"

Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) has received high praise for his stunningly insightful reading of Genji monogatari, epitomized in his notion of "mono no aware wo shiru" ("being familiar with a sense of empathy," Shibun yôryô, 1763). At about the same time Norinaga was developing his ideas regarding mono no aware wo shiru, he was also testing his own ability to compose a narrative in the monogatari style of a Heian court lady. The text that resulted from this exercise, Tamakura ("Pillowed in One's Arms," 1763; pub., 1795), attempts to flesh out the details of young Genji's love affair with Lady Rokujô, widow of the Crown Prince. Norinaga's narrative reveals a pastiche of quotations adapted from several chapters of Genji monogatari, and, as a work of extended fiction, pales in contrast to its inspiration. However, Norinaga's choice of theme, and attempt to clarify an aspect of Genji monogatari that had puzzled centuries of readers, provide valuable insight into the young Norinaga's sophisticated understanding of the work as a whole, in particular its mono no aware-infused affective attributes.

In this presentation, I explore the content of Tamakura, discuss it in the context of other attempts to add to the text of Genji monogatari over time, and consider the fact that Norinaga reworked the text late in life, recasting it in Keichû kanazukai from the earlier Teika kanazukai. Finally I compare Genji and Rokujô's relationship in Tamakura with Yûgiri (Genji's son) and Princess Ochiba's (Kashiwagi's widow) relationship in the latter chapters of Genji monogatari.

3) Machiko Midorikawa, Kanto Gakuin Junior College. "'That appears to be what is in the book': Genji monogatari and its translations"

"That appears to be what is in the book" (Royall Tyler trans., p. 1120)

Twenty-five years separate Royall Tyler's translation of Genji monogatari (2001) from the last complete English translation, by Edward Seidensticker (1976), and seven-five years from the first volume by Arthur Waley (1926). In the meantime Helen McCullough published selections in English (1994), and complete translations appeared in a number of other foreign languages. Modern Japanese translations include those by Tanizaki Jun'ichirô (1939-41), Enchi Fumiko (1972) and Setouchi Jakuchô (1996).

The Tyler translation differs in many ways from its distinguished English predecessors. One striking feature is the careful way in which characters are referred to, both by the narrator and by other characters. Traditional appellations like "Aoi" and "Tô no Chûjô" are retained in the annotations, but avoided entirely in the text of the translation itself, for reasons which are worth examining. The practice of modern Japanese translators is revealing in this regard.

Another feature is the manner in which characters' internal thoughts are represented. Whereas earlier English translators relied heavily on indirect discourse or paraphrased summary to render such passages, Tyler frequently employs the form of free direct speech. Again this is a stylistic decision, yet one of relevance not only to translation studies, but to the study of the original itself.

4) Charles DeWolf, Keiô University. "Accessibility and Distance: Issues of Register in Translations of Genji"

Princess Omiya might die, and Tamakazura would be guilty of sacrilege if she did not go into mourning for her grandmother. The princess must be informed. Genji set out for Sanjo. (Edward Seidensticker translation)

Her Highness's passing would mean a time of mourning that she could not possibly ignore either. No, I shall speak while Her Highness is still alive. He therefore set out for Her Highness's Sanjô residence. (Royall Tyler translation)

The perennial debate regarding accessibility vs. fidelity in literary translation has particular relevance to Genji monogatari, if only because of its reputation as both culturally and linguistically remote. Yet the basic requirement for success remains the same: The translator must "conjure" the reader--by means of language that is both familiar and "other." This paper examines that undertaking by focusing on register, including lexicon and speech level, in the English, German, and French renditions. Brief passages are compared both with the original and with each other, not for the purposes of a literary "concours" but rather in order to demonstrate often conflicting intra- and inter-linguistic priorities. For English readers in particular, illustrations from the German and French translations are intended to shed light on issues of style and semantics in their own language.

Discussant: Gaye Rowley, Waseda University


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