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Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Akinari Ueda
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Tales of Moonlight and Rain (1776)

by Akinari Ueda

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This book is brilliant, creepy and poetic at the same time. I cannot recommend it highly enough. ( )
  LadyBill | Jan 23, 2016 |
I enjoyed Akinari's Tales of Moonlight and Rain - eventually. Unfortunately, the translator's introduction is long and gives the impression that one simply will not possibly be able to understand or enjoy the tales unless one is a scholar of Japanese history and literature - if that's not bad enough, the intro also contains spoilers! This is a great shame because, while of course one will get more out of them if one has read the same texts as the author and has in mind the same history as readers of the day, they are perfectly accessible stories which can be enjoyed for their own sake.

If I may be so bold, I'd like to suggest a different order in which to read this book.
1)skip the book introduction and the introduction to each tale and go straight to the tales themselves (marked by a dark moon and a large, illustrated first letter) and read them for pure enjoyment, first. The footnotes that the translator supplies relate to notes at the end of each tale (not the notes at the bottom of the pages which are essentially language notes) and they provide plenty of information, if not a little too much, for pure enjoyment.
2)AFTER you have read each tale, read the translator's introduction to each one, they will give you historical notes etc... which will shed a little more light on what you've just read but will also make more sense to you after you've read the tale, and you'll also avoid spoilers.
3)After THAT, if you want to know more about the author and the place of the Tales in Japanese literature, read the introduction and the bibliography and throw yourself into an academic frenzy!

If you do enjoy the tales, then look for the works of Lafcadio Hearn :)
( )
  Darcy-Conroy | Sep 28, 2015 |
Ueda Akinari's Ugetsu monogatari is a collection of nine short stories of ghosts and the occult that was originally published in Japan in 1776. The classic as a whole has been translated into English several times and some of the individual tales have been translated as many as ten. The most recent of these translations is a study by Anthony H. Chambers first published in 2007 by Columbia University Press as part of its series Translation from the Asian Classics. With his translation of Ugetsu monogatari, titled Tales of Moonlight and Rain, Chambers aimed to provide th most accurate, comprehensive, and faithful English edition of the work, conveying the meaning of the text while still capturing Akinari's tone and style of writing. His efforts were rewarded with the 2007 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. The particular reason that Tales of Moonlight and Rain was brought to my attention was that Akinari was noted as being one of Yukio Mishima's favorite authors in his biography, Persona.

The nine stories in Tales of Moonlight and Rain--"Shiramine," "The Chrysanthemum Vow," "The Reed-Choked House," " The Carp of My Dreams," "The Owl of the Three Jewels," "The Kibitsu Cauldron," "The Serpent's Lust," "The Blue Hood," and "On Poverty and Wealth"--all deal with the mysterious and the strange. Ghosts make frequent appearances, demons cause terror and strife, spirits seek revenge, people are cursed or succumb to possession, and so on. All of the stories are set in provincial Japan which, as Chambers note in the introduction, would emphasize the strangeness and otherness of the tales for Akinari's original audience, a group mostly made up of people who lived in Japan's major cities. Additionally, all but one of the stories takes place before the Tokugawa shogunate was established in 1603, which also had a distancing effect. Today's readers are even further separated from the stories in Tales of Moonlight and Rain, but the tales are no less fascinating because of it.

In addition to Akinari's nine stories, Tales of Moonlight and Rain also includes extensive notes and analysis as well as a bibliography listing texts and commentaries, secondary resources, and previous English translations of Akinari's work. Chambers has written a lengthy introduction to the collection as a whole, but each of the stories has its own prefatory material which notes important details regarding the titles, characters, places, and time periods, explains useful background information and the stories' relationships and affinities to other works (both classic and contemporary), and provides additional commentary and any other observations. Chambers uses both footnotes and endnotes in Tales of Moonlight and Rain--the footnotes for points critical to the immediate understanding of the text and the endnotes for more in-depth information. In theory, this is an excellent idea, but in practice I found it rather annoying and cumbersome to have to look in two different places for the stories' notes. But this is really my only complaint about the volume and I consider it a minor one.

One of the most interesting things for me about the stories in Tales of Moonlight and Rain were all of the references and allusions that the collection contained to other classic works of Chinese and Japanese literature such as Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji and the collection of poetry Manyōshū. Having read translations of some of the older works being referred to, I particularly appreciated Akinari's use of them in Tales of Moonlight and Rain. However, it is not at all necessary to be familiar with the Chinese and Japanese literary classics in order to enjoy the collection. All of the stories stand completely on their own despite the borrowing and adapting that Akinari employs. I didn't realize it before reading Tales of Moonlight and Rain, but I was actually already familiar with some of the adaptations of Akinari's own work; Ugetsu monogatari was more influential than I knew. Personally, I enjoyed the entirety of Tales of Moonlight and Rain a great deal, including Chambers' commentary and analysis. The stories may be more than two centuries old, but perhaps in part because of that they remain both evocative and spellbinding.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Dec 20, 2013 |
Book Description: New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1972. Cloth. Very Good /Very Good . Hardcover First Edition Thus. Translated by Kengi Hamada.
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  Czrbr | Jun 7, 2010 |
truly an excellent translation. chambers provides lucid, in-depth, and copious footnotes about the text and its place in japanese literature.

not only that, but akinari's stories are still great reads today. going into this book, i was more a fan of mid-heian and early-to-mid 20th century japanese literature. but now i'm a huge fan of something in-between. :) i enjoyed the references to genji, heike, and the man'yoshu poems. makes me want to re-read all those. ( )
  coolsnak3 | Jan 18, 2010 |
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Book description
Les "Contes de pluie et de lune" est un des classiques de la littérature japonaise. Ce recueil de nouvelles est paru en 1776 environ sous le titre "Ugetsu Monogatari" et contient 9 histoires tournant autour du fantastique et des fantômes.

Shiramine :
Le moine Sagyo, dans son cheminement, décide de s'arrêter au mausolée de l'empereur retiré Sutoku, au lieu-dit de Shiramine. Le spectre de ce dernier lui apparait et les 2 hommes y discourt politique et philosophie.

Le rendez-vous aux chrysanthèmes :
Hasabe Samon , un jeune lettré, découvre un guerrier fort malade. Alors qu'il lui prodigue des soins, une amitié forte nait entre les 2 hommes. Le guerrier reprend la route et promet à son ami de revenir pour la fête des chrysanthèmes. Prisonnier d'un seigneur, l'homme revient vers son ami sous forme d'esprit.

La maison des roseaux :
Katsushirô est un homme de condition modeste aux grandes ambitions. Afin de retrouver la prospérité de sa famille autrefois, il décide d'accompagner un marchand d'étoffe à la capitale pour faire fortune. Laissant sa femme Miyagi au village, Katsushirô restera finalement de longues années. De plus, la guerre entre les seigneurs fait rage et le désordre gagne le pays. Dépouillé de ses richesses, 7 ans plus tard, il reprend le chemin de son village d'origine et découvre sa femme qui l'attendait toujours à la maison. Au matin, pourtant, que tout n'était qu'illusion...

Carpes telles qu'en songe... :
Le moine Kogi est également peintre. Spécialiste des animaux et de la nature, il aime à représenter les carpes. Depuis qu'un jour, une sorte de songe lui ai fait partager la vie de ces poissons, le moine s'émeut désormais de la sort, destiné à être découpé et mangé.

Buppôsô :
Un vieil homme et son fils errent dans les montagnes et s'arrêtent au Mont Koya. Ne trouvant pas d'abri pour la nuit, ils sont contraint de coucher dehors. Au cours de la nuit, leur apparait le prince Hidetsugu Toyotomi et toute sa cour qui leur demande bientôt de réciter quelques poèmes.

Le chaudron de kibitsu :
Shôtarô est un homme marié qui s'est quelque peu lassé de sa femme Isora. Prenant une maîtresse, il abandonne son épouse qui se laissera alors mourir de faim. Revenant sous forme de fantôme, cette dernière est bien décidée à se venger.

L'impure passion d'un serpent :
Toyoo est le 3ème fils d'un pêcheur. N'ayant aucune aptitude pratique, il s'est plutôt dirigé vers les lettres. Un jour de pluie, il s'abrite dans une cabane de pêcheur. Peu après, une belle dame très distinguée vient également s'y réfugier. Subjugué par le charme de Manago, il n'hésite pas à lui prêter son parapluie. Quand celui-ci vient à son domicile, récupérer l'objet, il ignore qu'il vient de tomber sous la séduction d'un serpent transformé en femme dont il va être difficile de se défaire de sa magie.

Le capuchon bleu :
Un moine itinérant atteint le villge de Toda. L'ayant pris pour le démon de la montagne, son hôte lui conte l'histoire d'un saint homme devenu fou qui hante désormais la région. S'enfonçant dans la montagne, le moine décide d'aller à sa rencontre.

Controverse sur la misère et la fortune :
Un homme fortuné et quelque peu avare est réveillé en plein nuit par une voix. C'est l'esprit de l'or qui s'adresse à lui. Débute alors entre 2 une grande discussion philosophique sur le pouvoir de l'argent.

(Source : http://legrenierdechoco.over-blog.com...)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231139128, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:41 -0400)

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