Excerpt from paper. Note that the full translation of the
play is available online
"Modes of Reception: Heike Monogatari and the Nô play Kogô," International and Regional Studies 16 (May 1997): pp. 275-303.
The present paper is part of a study of the Heike monogatari and its reception. "Reception" is here defined in broad terms to include all types of appreciation and understanding, from the time the work was first read or heard up to the present. The reception history of the Heike monogatari for which we have written evidence will include all the variant versions of the narrative as well as works written about it or inspired by it.
The numerous variant versions of the Heike monogatari are the product of productive reception by readers turned writers. From the Muromachi period onwards there survive hand-written commentaries which were circulated in printed form during the Edo period Apart from these versions of the story as a whole, there survive numerous texts based on individual episodes or characters from the work.These texts represent a number of literary and dramatic genres for reading, for recitation, and for dramatic performance. Incidents or characters from the Heike are the basis of works in the repertoire of the major dramatic forms in pre-modern Japan: nô, kôwakamai, jôruri and kabuki. There is even at least one play in the comic genre of kyôgen.
The second half of this paper consists of a translation of the no play Kogô, which is based on part of the section "Kogô" in book 6 of the Heike monogatari. Many words and phrases from the narrative work have been borrowed by the presumed playwright, Konparu Zenchiku (1405-?), who also added poetic quotations from the imperial anthologies and Genji monogatari, and references to famous incidents in Chinese history that were seen as analogous. A number of different kinds of reception are thus present in the same work, the intertextual allusions adding a complex counterpoint to the simple incidents in the plot.
Some further comments about the play and its relation to the
Heike story will be given below, but a full analysis of
the reception of the Kogô story will not be attempted here.
Instead, in view of the interdisciplinary scope of this journal
and the nature of this special issue, it seems more appropriate
to begin by discussing the theoretical background to this kind
of reception study. I shall explain in more detail what is meant
here by the term "reception" and how it can be applied
to Heike studies, and then look an an example from Kogô.
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