restricted access Tama no Ogushi
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212 TAMA NO OGUSHI Motoori Norinaga | 1796 [Norinaga extends his thesis about mono no aware and applies it directly to Genji monogatari. This work appears to be based on the lectures Norinaga had given through the years on the tale, something he began not long after he established his medical practice in Matsusaka. This translation focuses on the sections dealing specifically with mono no aware. His theory of “literature” appeals to evidence from within the tale itself, rather on didactic elements argued by scholars and religious individuals.] WHAT IS A TALE? During middle antiquity there was a genre called monogatari “tale.” In present society monogatari is defined as stories, or narratives from the ancient past. In Nihongi the character 談 “discussion” is glossed as monogatari .1 In the “Picture Contest” chapter in Genji monogatari, we see the first instance where monogatari is used in the title of a book, “The Old Bamboo Cutter, the ancestor of all tales was pitted against the ‘Toshikage’ chapter of The Hollow Tree.”2 Perhaps Taketori monogatari “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is thus the first tale of our literature. It is impossible to know when Taketori monogatari was written, or who the author was, but it is not that ancient of a tale, having been written after the Engi period [901–23].3 There also appear to be other tales that existed prior to Genji monogatari, and we know the titles of a variety of these, but most manuscripts have not survived down to the present. There are also a variety of works from the same 1. There are thirteen examples of the character 談 in Nihon shoki. Five are found in the name of a powerful Ōtomo scion, named Katari Muraji. Two other examples appear in the Yūryaku chapter and are glossed as monogatari as Norinaga mentions. These two Chinese examples can be rendered in English as “chat” or “talk.” 2. Translated by Tyler (2001:325). 3. Modern scholarship agrees the tale was originally Chinese in origin, and was translated into Japanese. Vovin (2005:265) notes that the Old Japanese nominalizer –aku appears frequently in Taketori monogatari, but only once in the narrative section of Ise monogatari, and not in other tales later in the Heian era. This attests to the work having been translated during the Nara era, or at least before 850 ce. NORINAGA | Tama no Ogushi213 era as Genji monogatari or somewhat later, and many of these still exist. In the “Keburi no nochi” chapter of Eiga monogatari “Tale of Flowering Fortunes ,” it records, “He wanted to have a tale contest [in contrast to a picture contest], so he wrote a new tale and divided the people into left and right, and had them judge his work against twenty some other tales, and it was a very interesting time.” Now, the literary style of these various tales subtly changed over time, but these all share the same format of telling stories from previous eras, basing their stories on actual facts with added fictional details, changing the names of the historical characters to hide their identity, or simply making up some stories out of whole cloth. It is very rare that a tale will tell a historical story without embellishment. In general, tales are works of fiction . Next is the intention of writing a tale and why anyone would read these. These tales describe various things that exist in society, the good, the evil, the rare, the strange, the interesting, and the sad. They include pictures depicting scenes in the story, available for people to amuse themselves and kill time when they are bored. These also lend comfort when people are depressed, and as these are accurate depictions of the feelings of people within society, one can understand the profundity of human emotions through these tales. Thus, as all of these tales are stories based on depictions of relations between men and women, emulating the same logic as the successive anthologies that have large sections on love, these tales show the depth of human emotion, and love is the superior topic. I will next describe these things in greater detail. THE AUTHOR OF THE TALE OF GENJI It is well known in society that Murasaki Shikibu is the author of this tale, and this fact also appears in her own diary, Murasaki Shikibu nikki, so this is beyond question, but in reality there are a number of theories on the subject. First, Kachō yōsei4 quotes from Uji Dainagon monogatari where...


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