Ambitious and engrossing, this volume thoroughly revises the conventional narrative of The Tale of Genjis early modern and modern history, arguing that until the 1930s readers were less familiar with the eleventh-century work than scholars have assumed. Exploring iterations of the work from the 1830s to the 1950s, Michael Emmerich demonstrates how translations and the global circulation of discourse they inspired turned The Tale of Genji into a widely read classic, reframing not only our understanding of its significance and influence but also the processes that have canonized the text. In doing so, he supplants the passive concept of reception with the active notion of replacement, revitalizing the work of literary criticism.Part I begins with a close reading of the lavishly produced bestseller A Fraudulent Murasakis Bumpkin Genji (18291842), an adaptation of Genji written and designed by Ryutei Tanehiko, with pictures by the great print artist Utagawa Kunisada. Emmerich argues that this work, with its sophisticated image-text-book relations, first introduced Genji to a popular Japanese audience, creating a new mode of reading in which people interested in Genji read a more approachable version instead. He then considers moveable type editions of Bumpkin Genji from 1888 to 1928 as bibliographic translations, connecting trends in print and publishing to larger developments in national literature and showing how the one-time bestseller became obsolete. Part II traces Genjis recanonization as a classic on a global scale, revealing that it entered the canons of world literature before the text gained popularity in Japanand that it was Suematsu Kenchos now-forgotten partial translation of Genji into English in 1882 that accomplished this, four decades before Arthur Waleys still-famous translation. Emmerich concludes by analyzing Genjis emergence of Genji as a national classic during World War II and reviews an important postwar challenges to reading the work in this mode. Through his sustained critique, Emmerich upends scholarship on Japans preeminent classic, while remaking theories of world literature, continuity, and community.
- Publication Date:
- 25 / 06 / 2013