Thursday, January 05, 2006

Early Reading

To start your reading for the term, pick up John Luther Long's Madame Butterfly -- hardly more than a short story. The second text in the Rutgers edition -- Montreal-born Winnifred Eaton's A Japanese Nightingale -- is available to be read voluntarily as your individual research may indicate as the term progresses.

I am interested in hearing your responses to Madame Butterfly uncouloured by prior lecturing from me.

Then, on to the first section of The Pillow Book -- "In Spring it is the Dawn" -- and the first chapter of our main text, The Tale of Genji, titled "The Paulownia Pavilion." The chapter, by the bye, can be read online in pdf format,
here. It is my hope that you will find Shonagon and Shikibu both very delightful reading.

A word here about the volume of reading. Despite what it may seem, you will find it very manageable. Madame Butterfly and Masks are very short texts. The Pillow Book is comprised of short episodes, which we will read sequentially as the term goes on. As for Genji, while it does have heft, we are concentrating this term on the first two-thirds of the book - the chapters that follow the life of "the shining prince". I have a schedule for us to follow week-by-week that puts the book in effective portions over our thirteen weeks togther.

But above all, I am confident that Genji is such a wonderful book, that the atmosphere and culture of historical Japan is so appealing, that Lady Shikibu is an author of such high stature in among the world's literary greats, and that the opportunity to perhaps add to the wider appreciation of the book promises excitement, so it will be a delight and no chore at all.

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