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A Tale of False Fortunes

Enchi Fumiko

Publication Year: 2000

A Tale of False Fortunes is a masterful translation of Enchi Fumiko's (1905-1986) modern classic, Namamiko monogatari. Written in 1965, this prize-winning work of historical fiction presents an alternative account of an imperial love affair narrated in the eleventh-century romance A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (Eiga monogatari). Both stories are set in the Heian court of the emperor Ichijo (980-1011) and tell of the ill-fated love between the emperor and his first consort, Teishi, and of the political rivalries that threaten to divide them. While the earlier work can be viewed largely as a panegyric to the all-powerful regent Fujiwara no Michinaga, Enchi's account emphasizes Teishi's nobility and devotion to the emperor and celebrates her "moral victory" over the regent, who conspired to divert the emperor's attentions toward his own daughter, Shoshi. The narrative of A Tale of False Fortunes is built around a fictitious historical document, which is so well crafted that it was at first believed to be an actual document of the Heian period. Throughout Enchi's innovation and skill are evident as she alternates between modern and classical Japanese, interjecting her own commentary and extracts from A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, to impress upon the reader the authenticity of the tale presented within the novel.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-7

Enchi Fumiko (1905–1986), noted for her translation of The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese and for her encyclopedic knowledge of Japan’s classics, commented in her later years that “the women of the Heian aristocracy all seem to be cast in ...

Genealogy: Historical Figures in ATale of False Fortunes

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p. 8-8

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pp. 9-15

When I was young, I knew Dr. Basil Hall Chamberlain by the name “Mr. Chamberlain.” Of course, I had not actually seen him, but I had become accustomed to hearing the name “Mr. Chamberlain” interspersed in my father’s conversations. My father, who had formerly ...

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Chapter One

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pp. 16-38

If my memory is not mistaken, the opening section of A Tale of False Fortunes consists largely of extracts from chapters of the first volume of A Tale of Flowering Fortunes and chronicles the struggle for power in the regency after the death of Michinaga’s ...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 39-59

Emperor Ichijò’s mother, Senshi, was Michitaka’s and Michinaga’s sister by the same mother. She was known as the Higashisanjò Empress, and later, after taking the tonsure, as the empress dowager. It was through her influence that her father Kaneie became head of the Fujiwara clan and had the way open ...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 60-74

After Michinaga had assumed the regency and taken the reins of government, two new ladies-in-waiting were installed to attend the emperor. One was Genshi, the daughter of Akimitsu, the Horikawa minister of the right, and the other was Gishi, the daughter of Major Counselor Kinsue. Genshi was called Lady ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 75-98

On the twenty-fourth day of the fourth month of Chòtoku 2 (996), an imperial edict was issued banishing Palace Minister Korechika to Tsukushi [Kyushu] and Middle Counselor Takaie to Izumo. One year after the death of Michitaka, it was obvious the sun had set on the declining fortunes of the former regent’s ...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 99-119

The description in A Tale of Flowering Fortunes implies that it was at the urging of her grandfather, Takashina no Naritada, that Empress Teishi resolved to take the little princess and return to the imperial palace. Naritada mourned the loss of his daughter, Kishi, and the grandsons on whom he had so counted, Korechika ...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 120-150

As Empress Consort Teishi continued to live at court with the emperor, once again her periods stopped and she became violently ill with morning sickness. She grew thin, and it was decided at the end of the third month that she should return to Imperial Steward Narimasa’s house. The emperor felt ...

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About the Author and Translator

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p. 151-151

Enchi Fumiko (1905–1986), the daughter of the noted philologist Ueda Kazutoshi, resolved at the age of nineteen to become a playwright and in 1928 saw the successful staging of her play ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861292
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824821357

Publication Year: 2000