Throughout this book, my greatest challenge was trying to be understanding of the time and place in which this book was released It serves its purpose as an anthology, albeit a tad light for my tastes, and as a brief introduction to Japanese literature throughout history But I had a hard time with the fact that there were very few Japanese translators, mostly a bunch of old white academics, whom I daresay were without the cultural context of what many of these pieces were apart Which leads me to my final criticism, I was disappointed with the brief introductions for the pieces, as an historical context would have provided a better reading experience. Little Free Library find.Not everything interested me but a lot of the entries did I think contemporary translations might present a different interesting view.Very useful in a larger sense as reference and to have a better background understanding of references in Japanese film, anime and contemporary literate.Nothing to do with the book or my rating but prior owner underlined and notated relentlessly in ink which distracted me like crazy. The Sweep Of Japanese Literature In All Its Great Variety Was Made Available To Western Readers For The First Time In This Anthology Every Genre And Style, From The Celebrated No Plays To The Poetry And Novels Of The Seventeenth Century, Find A Place In This Book An Introduction By Donald Keene Places The Selections In Their Proper Historical Context, Allowing The Readers To Enjoy The Book Both As Literature And As A Guide To The Cultural History Of Japan Selections Include Man Yoshu Or Collection Of Ten Thousand Leaves From The Ancient Period Kokinshu Or Collection Of Ancient And Modern Poetry, The Tosa Diary Of Ki No Tsurayuki, Yugao From Tales Of Genji Of Murasaki Shikibu, And The Pillow Book Of Sei Shonagon From The Heian Period The Tale Of The Heike From The Kamakura Period Plan Of The No Stage, Birds Of Sorrow Of Seami Motokiyo, And Three Poets At Minase From The Muromachi Period And Sections From Basho, Including The Narrow Road Of Oku, The Love Suicides At Sonezaki By Chikamatsu Monzaemon, And Waka And Haiku Of The Tokugawa Period I ve been reading this on and off for a year or two I really enjoy it, especially outside on sunny days. When it comes to Japanese literature Translation wise, there are three people that really stand out To me, at least Donald Keene, Edward G Seidensticker, and Arthur Waley.Maybe because my collection is mostly have them credited as a translator, so I m so well known with their style Their subtlety and minimum localization Yes, I despise localization Unless it s really necessary or the equivalent could capture the nuance of the original phrase.Anyway, this book is like the guide book for those who wanted to know about classic Japanese literature, but backed off when knowing how thick the Tale of Genji is.As the title suggests, the compilation is on chronological order And I don t know about you But to me, it gave me an extra view on Japanese history Things that previously only known briefly, or maybe known through the heavily fabricated details in a manga.It sure is fun, to know about a country s history through its literature Reading this, I couldn t help but notice the changes in theme, nuances, and how people are telling the story. This was a landmark anthology when published in the 1950s and is still, I think, regarded as standard reading on many university courses in pre modern Japanese literature Keene was, and still is, regarded as one of the leading Western authorities on, and translators of, Japanese literature many of these translations are his own His selections can, I think, be relied on to offer a representative birds eye view of Japanese literature from the earliest times right up to the end of the Tokugawa era a huge span of time Everything in here is eminently worth taking the time to read Much of it is genuinely engaging, moving, beautiful, challenging A particular pleasure of mine was being able to read the full text of a bunraku play Keene s insightful introductions to almost every text are excellent Some might disagree, however, with Keene s method, elucidated in his introduction, of making the texts readable to a modern Western audience, but just what this entails is hard to tell without being able to understand the originals. Numerous enjoyable pieces, in this, my first exposure to ancient Japanese literature Floating Worlds , the letters of Edward Gorey, triggered my interest Some memorable excerpts 106..Murasaki, 11th C, Tales of Genjiseek not in the wide world to find a home but where you chance to rest, call that your house.232..Kenko, 14th C, Essays in Idleness,when a man is over 40, it is pitiful to see, how, unashamed of his looks, he loves to thrust himself into the society of others.233..There is a charm about a neat and proper dwelling house, although this world,, tis true, is but a temporary abodeThe man is to be envied who lives in a house, not of the modern, garish kind, but set among venerable trees, with a garden where plants grow wild and yet seem to have been disposed with care, verandas and fence tastefully arranged, and all its furnishings simple but antique.240..a well bred man does not show strong likings His enjoyment appears careless. Each literary piece reveals the nature and culture of these beautiful people The anthology has selections from all five periods of creative writing The most surprising news of all, many of the short stories were written by women In fact, the beautiful, well written plots enlightened one to the power of this peaceful aspect women are able to recreate Pride of the warrior has been important so women share the depth of emotion and pleasure in nature, death, belief, and living in the world of Japan The fairy tale is important as well as legend and fable In quite a few stories, there is the outcome of what you sow, you reap as in the Western thought This anthology is now an important book in my library to settle into that Japanese world time and again This is a never ending perusal for me. Only got to read a little bit while staying at a vacation rental with a thick stuffed bookshelf I pulled this down because I ve never sampled any old Japanese lit, and the editor s introduction drew me in with information like this the supreme masterpiece of Japanese literature was The Tale of Genji It is a work of genius, which may justifiably be included among the great novels of the world One of the unusual features of Heian can t read my note literature is that such work as The Tale of Genji were written by women The usual explanation for this curious fact is that the men considered writing in Japanese to be beneath them and devoted themselves to the composition of poetry and prose in Chinese, leaving the women to write masterpieces in the native language.I chowed down on that affirming information for just what it is, and as it applies to my own business of blogging and making autobiographical porn.While the menfolk did a shitty job of trying to mimic someone else s fancy poetic language and wasted their time, the women used the words they and the rest of the common people had access to and made something beautiful.Good reminders to use the words you know and tell good yarns regardless of trends or what the supremely ignorant literati say. Mixing linguistic nuances and historical details with numerous stories, Donald Keene provides a strong editorial background to the translations of Japanese literature When read carefully, the book also gives a translation of Donald Keene, highlighting his taste in poetry topics, love of Noh theater, and occasional annoyance with mono linguistic speakers he s got some footnotes where he simply says this is a pun, and its very clever on multiple levels, but would be much to tedious to explain here Mostly it means This is a good start to pick which early Japanese literature you might be interested in, but because much of what is in the book is only excerpts, they can never be a substitute the whole text.