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10 - Early Heian court tales

from Part II - The Heian period (794–1185)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2016

Haruo Shirane
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
Tomi Suzuki
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
David Lurie
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

In modern parlance, the term monogatari refers to long prose narratives told in the equivalent of the third person, and produced among the nobility from the early tenth century until some time in the Kamakura period. This chapter traces the emergence of this genre up until the appearance of The Tale of Genji in the early eleventh century, which marks its pinnacle. It also discusses the Taketori monogatari or The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Ise monogatari, and Tsukuri-monogatari. In addition to these tales Heian Japan was aware of the short fiction that circulated in Tang China. In the Tang dynasty, many stories and poems circulated about the meetings of the emperors Mu and Wu with the Queen Mother of the West. In these texts, the emperors approach the queen mother to be taught the secrets of Taoist alchemy and to obtain an elixir of immortality, though they ultimately fail or are refused.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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