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Book Title: La luna de las lluvias|
The author of the book: Ueda Akinari
Date of issue: 2010
ISBN 13: 9788497166447
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 655 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.2
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Perhaps this has happened to you too: touched by a new enthusiasm—for Iranian cinema, troubadour poetry, a new Olympic sport—you seek out a specialist for a little background. He smiles, and tells you that his specialty is so unique, its aesthetic pleasures so subtle, its cultural assumptions so complex, that its proper appreciation will require of you a life-long habit of dedication and study. After an hour of his monologue, drained of all enthusiasm, you finally tear yourself away, vowing never to speak of the subject again.
Something similar—although not so severe—happened to me when I read Anthony H. Chambers introduction to his translation of Ueda Akinari's Tales for a Rainy Moon. I approached the work with interest, since I love ghost stories, have a particular affection for Japanese supernatural tales (acquired through my reading of Lafcadio Hearn), and revere Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu Monogatari—a 1953 movie adapted from two of these stories—as one of the greatest films of all time. Moreover, I knew this was a celebrated traditional work, written in the 18th century, and considered a classic of the Edo period.
I began to read Chambers' introduction (supplemented by eight pages of notes), and soon I was not only swamped with Japanese literary terms--I learned, for example, that Akinari was a bunjin inspired by wen-jen who sought ga and avoided zoku—but also confronted by intimidating charts and categories, including the typical elements (ten!) of the Japanese supernatural tale and the relevant aspects (four!) of the Noh play (which it somewhat resembles). Sure, I could have skipped all this, but I'm a good boy, the kind who always eats his spinach, and I thought I might learn something. And I did learn something; in fact, I learned much that was helpful. But Chambers still told me much more than I will ever need to know.
What is worse, though, is that this passion for preserving every cultural nuance and subtlety carries over into Chambers' translation. A good translator must walk a fine line between conveying the cultural uniqueness of the work while also communicating its universality. Chambers errs on the side of uniqueness almost every time.
Still, all nine stories are evocative, and Chambers translation is good enough to display their power and beauty. My favorites are the two that inspired Mizoguchi: “The Reed-Choked House” (the female ghost as faithful peasant wife) and “A Serpent's Lust” (the female ghost as aristocratic snake-demon). I also particularly liked “The Kibutsu Cauldron” (another faithful wife ghost), “The Chrysanthemum Vow” (the passionate love of two men triumphs even over death), “The Blue Hood” (a crazy cannibal monk foiled by a zen master), and “The Carp of My Dreams” (a monk who is a superb painter of fish dreams he is a fish himself). This last is a real reality-bender. I think Philip K. Dick would have liked it, and it is my third favorite story in the collection.
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Read information about the authorUeda Akinari or Ueda Shūsei (上田 秋成) was a Japanese author, scholar and waka poet, and a prominent literary figure in 18th century Japan. He was an early writer in the yomihon genre and his two masterpieces, Ugetsu Monogatari ("Tales of Rain and the Moon") and Harusame Monogatari ("Tales of Spring Rain"), are central to the canon of Japanese literature.
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