The Tales of the Heike

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-03-15
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr

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The Tales of the Heikeis one of the most influential works in Japanese literature and culture, remaining even today a crucial source for fiction, drama, and popular media. Originally written in the mid-thirteenth century, it features a cast of vivid characters and chronicles the epic Genpei war, a civil conflict that marked the end of the power of the Heike and changed the course of Japanese history. The Tales of the Heikefocuses on the lives of both the samurai warriors who fought for two powerful twelfth-century Japanese clans-the Heike (Taira) and the Genji (Minamoto)-and the women with whom they were intimately connected. The Tales of the Heikeprovides a dramatic window onto the emerging world of the medieval samurai and recounts in absorbing detail the chaos of the battlefield, the intrigue of the imperial court, and the gradual loss of a courtly tradition. The book is also highly religious and Buddhist in its orientation, taking up such issues as impermanence, karmic retribution, attachment, and renunciation, which dominated the Japanese imagination in the medieval period. In this new, abridged translation, Burton Watson offers a gripping rendering of the work's most memorable episodes. Particular to this translation are the introduction by Haruo Shirane, the woodblock illustrations, a glossary of characters, and an extended bibliography.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
p. 9
The Bells of Gion Monasteryp. 9
Night Attack at Courtiers' Hallp. 10
The Sea Bassp. 14
Page-Boy Cutsp. 15
Kiyomori's Flowering Fortunesp. 15
Giop. 16
p. 28
The Admonitionp. 29
Signal Firesp. 33
The Death of the Senior Counselorp. 34
Yasuyori's Prayerp. 35
p. 37
The Pardonp. 37
The Foot-Drummingp. 40
Ariop. 43
The Death of Shunkanp. 47
p. 51
The Battle at the Bridgep. 51
p. 58
The Burning of Narap. 58
p. 65
The Death of Kiyomorip. 65
p. 72
Sanemorip. 72
Tadanori Leaves the Capitalp. 75
The Flight from Fukuharap. 77
p. 82
p. 83
The Death of Lord Kisop. 83
The Old Horsep. 89
The Attack from the Cliffp. 93
The Death of Tadanorip. 95
The Capture of Shigehirap. 97
The Death of Atsumorip. 98
p. 101
Regarding the Preceptsp. 101
Senju-no-maep. 105
Yokobuep. 109
Koremori Becomes a Monkp. 113
Koremori Drowns Himselfp. 117
p. 122
The Death of Tsuginobup. 122
Nasu no Yoichip. 126
The Lost Bowp. 130
The Cockfights and the Battle of Dan-no-urap. 133
Far-Flying Arrowsp. 137
The Drowning of the Former Emperorp. 141
p. 144
The Execution of Rokudaip. 144
The Initiates' Bookp. 148
The Imperial Lady Becomes a Nunp. 148
The Move to Oharap. 151
The Retired Emperor Visits Oharap. 153
The Six Paths of Existencep. 160
The Death of the Imperial Ladyp. 165
Glossary of Charactersp. 171
Bibliographyp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


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