The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature by Michael EmmerichThe Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature by Michael Emmerich

The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature

byMichael Emmerich

Paperback | May 12, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 230 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-3 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Michael Emmerich thoroughly revises the conventional narrative of the early modern and modern history of The Tale of Genji. Exploring iterations of the work from the 1830s to the 1950s, he demonstrates how translations and the global circulation of discourse they inspired turned The Tale of Genji into a widely read classic, reframing our understanding of its significance and influence and of the processes that have canonized the text.

Emmerich begins with an analysis of the lavishly produced best seller Nise Murasaki inaka Genji (A Fraudulent Murasaki's Bumpkin Genji, 1829-1842), an adaptation of Genji written and designed by Ryutei Tanehiko, with pictures by the great print artist Utagawa Kunisada. He argues that this work introduced Genji to a popular Japanese audience and created a new mode of reading. He then considers movable-type editions of Inaka Genji from 1888 to 1928, connecting trends in print technology and publishing to larger developments in national literature and showing how the one-time best seller became obsolete.

The study subsequently traces Genji's reemergence as a classic on a global scale, following its acceptance into the canon of world literature before the text gained popularity in Japan. It concludes with Genji's becoming a "national classic" during World War II and reviews an important postwar challenge to reading the work after it attained this status. Through his sustained critique, Emmerich upends scholarship on Japan's preeminent classic while remaking theories of world literature, continuity, and community.

Michael Emmerich is associate professor of Japanese literature and cultural studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the editor of Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers and New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese.
Title:The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World LiteratureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.07 inPublished:May 12, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231162731

ISBN - 13:9780231162739


Read from the Book

Read an excerpt from the introduction:

Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsA Note to the ReaderIntroduction: Replacing the TextPart I. Ninety-Nine Years in the Life of an ImageTouchstone 1. Reimagining the Canon1. A Gokan Is a Gokan Is a Gokan: Inaka Genji Beyond Parody2. Reading Higashiyama: Image, Text, and Book in Inaka Genji3. Turning a New Page: Bibliographic Translation and the Yomihonization of Inaka GenjiPart II. In Medias ResTouchstone 2. Triangle4. The History of a Romance: Genji Before Waley5. From the World to the Nation: Making Genji Ours6. "Genji monogatari: Translation and Original"Conclusion: Turning to Translation, Returning to TranslationNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Impeccably researched and copiously illustrated.