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This collection of translated tales is from the most famous work in all of Japanese classical literature—the Konjaku Monogatari Shu. This collection of traditional Japanese folklore is akin to the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer or Dante's Inferno—powerfully entertaining tales that reveal striking aspects of the cultural psychology, fantasy, and creativity of medieval Japan—tales that still resonate with modern Japanese readers today.
The ninety stories in this book are filled with keen psychological insights, wry sarcasm, and scarcely veiled criticisms of the clergy, nobles, and peasants alike—suggesting that there are, among all classes and peoples, similar failings of pride, vanity, superstition and greed—as well as aspirations toward higher moral goals.
This is the largest collection in English of the Konjaku Monogatari Shu tales ever published in one volume. It presents the low life and the high life, the humble and the devout, the profane flirting, farting and fornicating of everyday men and women, as well as their yearning for the wisdom, transcendence and compassion that are all part and parcel of our shared humanity.
The Grave of Chopsticks
Robbers Come to a Temple and Steal Its Bell
The Woman Fish Peddler at the Guardhouse
Fish are Turned into the Lotus Sutra
A Dragon is Caught by a Tengu Goblin
The Monk Tojo Predicts the Fall of Shujaku Gate
Wasps Attack a Spider in Revenge
Naoshi Koriyama taught at Toyo University in Tokyo from 1961-1997 and is professor emeritus. He is the translator of Like Underground Water: The Poetry of Mid-Twentieth Century Japan and numerous other books of verse.
Bruce Allen is Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Seisen University in Tokyo. He has translated several of the works of Japanese writer Ishimure Michiko, including her novel Lake of Heaven.