THE TALE OF GENJI.

I’ve just discovered that the Edward G.Seidensticker translation of Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) is online. I don’t know what the deal is, since the book is still in print and less than thirty years old, but if you have a hankering to read a thousand-page classic online, here’s your chance, if you can finish it before it gets yanked. (And if you want the whole text on a single web page—well, you can have that too. The internet is large and generous.) And I found a nice page of Genji links originally compiled for a class.
So then it occurred to me that the original Japanese text must be online, and of course it is, doubtless in many places, and this is old hat to you Japanese experts out there, but it knocked me out to find this site, which not only has the original text and a modernized version but a romanized (romaji) one as well, and will display all three at once (in parallel frames) if you wish to compare them. And it turns out to be part of the Japanese Text Initiative. a collaboration of the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center and the University of Pittsburgh East Asian Library to “make texts of classical Japanese literature available on the World Wide Web”; just take a look at all the texts they have from the premodern and modern periods. Amazing. I really should learn the language. But I can make use of the texts anyway, after a fashion, thanks to POPjisyo.
Anyway, I got started on all this because of a wonderful site that has photographs of all the places mentioned in the novel, a link I got from the equally wonderful Plep.


The first line in the original, modern, and transliterated versions:
いづれの御時にか、女御、更衣あまたさぶらひたまひけるなかに、いとやむごとなき際にはあらぬが、すぐれて時めきたまふありけり。
どの帝の御代のことであったか、女御や更衣たちが大勢お仕えなさっていたなかに、たいして高貴な身分ではないで、きわだって御寵愛をあつめていらっしゃる方があった。
Idure no ohom-toki ni ka, nyougo, kaui amata saburahi tamahi keru naka ni, ito yamgotonaki kiha ni ha ara nu ga, sugurete tokimeki tamahu ari keri.

Comments

  1. Thanks, LH! I love the Seidensticker translation. The abridged version was my favorite book in high school.

  2. Aozora Bunko has another great modernised version, by YOSANO Akiko (one of my favorite Japanese poets). You can find it by here: http://www.aozora.gr.jp/index_pages/person885.html
    and looking for 源氏物語
    (All the chapters are separate, though.)
    Her version of the first sentence is:
    どの天皇様の御代であったか、女御とか更衣とかいわれる後宮がおおぜいいた中に、最上の貴族出身ではないが深い御愛寵を得ている人があった。

  3. Wow, LH, what a gift… thanks! (Also for the link to the photo site — I love these kinds of photographic pilgrimages.)
    And thanks too, Matt, for the link to the Yosano Akiko translation. I was surprised to find that each of the separate chapters is available as either an XHTML document or a downloadable zipped text file (each in Shift-JIS encoding), including ruby annotations for the more difficult kanji.
    LH, keep the excellent Japanese-related posts coming! (Perhaps you could rustle up links to online versions of both the Tanizaki Jun’ichiro and Enchi Fumiko translations of Genji as well.)

  4. There are also versions of the Kokinshu and Manyoshu. When I quit studying Japanese 25 years ago I knew I would regret it.
    And the Pierson Manyoshu dictionary and translation are apparently unavailable at any price now. Woe.
    http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/kokinshu/kikokin.html
    http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/manyoshu/AnoMany.html

  5. Perhaps you could rustle up links to online versions of both the Tanizaki Jun’ichiro and Enchi Fumiko translations of Genji as well.
    I think we’d better leave that up to Matt, who actually reads Japanese.

  6. Oh, cool. I’ve been meaning to read a more recent translation of the Genji (than Waley’s) for some time.

  7. I’ve never seen their versions online — I always assumed it was because both of them died less than fifty years ago, but I guess Seidensticker made it online anyway, so..

  8. Brazilian dude says:

    If anybody has problems with kanji (and I do off and on), take a look at the wonderful http://www.rikai.com.
    Brazilian dude

  9. Oh, cool. I’ve been meaning to read a more recent translation of the Genji (than Waley’s) for some time.
    I find the newish Royall Tyler translation (came out in 2001 or 2002, I think?) to be excellent. But, alas, not free online.

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