Tales of Moonlight and Rain / Edition 1by Ueda Ueda
Pub. Date: 11/14/2006
Publisher: Columbia University Press
First published in 1776, the nine gothic tales in this collection are Japan's finest and most celebrated examples of the literature of the occult. They subtly merge the world of reason with the realm of the uncanny and exemplify the period's fascination with the strange and the grotesque. They were also the inspiration for Mizoguchi Kenji's brilliant 1953 film
First published in 1776, the nine gothic tales in this collection are Japan's finest and most celebrated examples of the literature of the occult. They subtly merge the world of reason with the realm of the uncanny and exemplify the period's fascination with the strange and the grotesque. They were also the inspiration for Mizoguchi Kenji's brilliant 1953 film Ugetsu.
The title Ugetsu monogatari (literally "rain-moon tales") alludes to the belief that mysterious beings appear on cloudy, rainy nights and in mornings with a lingering moon. In "Shiramine," the vengeful ghost of the former emperor Sutoku reassumes the role of king; in "The Chrysanthemum Vow," a faithful revenant fulfills a promise; "The Kibitsu Cauldron" tells a tale of spirit possession; and in "The Carp of My Dreams," a man straddles the boundaries between human and animal and between the waking world and the world of dreams. The remaining stories feature demons, fiends, goblins, strange dreams, and other manifestations beyond all logic and common sense.
The eerie beauty of this masterpiece owes to Akinari's masterful combination of words and phrases from Japanese classics with creatures from Chinese and Japanese fiction and lore. Along with The Tale of Genji and The Tales of the Heike, Tales of Moonlight and Rain has become a timeless work of great significance. This new translation, by a noted translator and scholar, skillfully maintains the allure and complexity of Akinari's original prose.
Table of Contents
AcknowledgmentsIntroduction Tales of Moonlight and RainPrefaceBook OneShiramineThe Chrysanthemum VowBook TwoThe Reed-Choked HouseThe Carp of My DreamsBook ThreeThe Owl of the Three JewelsThe Kibitsu CaldronBook FourA Serpent's LustBook FiveThe Blue HoodOn Poverty and WealthBibliography
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This book contains not only a translation of Ueda Akinari's classic compilation of ghost stories, but also a well-researched and informative introduction that covers such relevant topics as historical background, Akinari's scholarly aesthetics and values, and the literary movements of his time, as well as information on the wealth of allusions contained in the text and a bit on the folkloric elements that appear therein. Each short story is introduced with similar information, including locations and characters that appear in each. As for the stories themselves, they are -- at least in translation -- rich but written in a dry tone. They are also full of footnotes and endnotes, which I personally appreciated but other readers might find off-putting. I found these extra features useful for understanding the cultural and literary background that the stories are cast against. The characters and situations are eerie and strange, and the storytelling is evocative despite the crispness of the prose. It's not light reading, but it Akinari's classic masterpiece is entertaining as long as the reader is not expecting a light read. This book is a must have for anyone interested in Japanese history and traditional culture, especially for those interested in ghost stories and classical literature.