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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hankai; a tale from the Harusame monogatari by Ueda Akinari (1734-1809) Young, Blake Morgan


Ueda Akinari has already attracted the notice of a few Western scholars, but their studies to date have been concerned almost exclusively with his unchallenged literary masterpiece, Ugetsu monogatari (Tales of Moonlight and Rain). The thesis which follows is an attempt to introduce Akinari's next best known work of fiction, Harusame monogatari (Tales of the Spring Rain), to Western study. The core of my thesis is a translation of "Hankai," the longest of the ten tales which comprise Harusame monogatari. It is preceded, as an introduction, by an essay of three major divisions: first, a note on the life and works of Ueda Akinari; second, a discussion of Harusame monogatari as a whole; and finally, specific remarks on "Hankai." Although Akinari's personal history is obscure, and will remain so until considerably more biographical research is done, I have tried to sketch his life using the pertinent items about him which are known to be, or at least are generally accepted as being true, and to explain how he fits into the overall picture of Japanese literature. In translating "Hankai," an effort to keep the English rendition true to the original Japanese was sustained throughout, but though held to a minimum and used only as a last resort, some compromises were necessary in the interests of good English. In translating works of literature, one always encounters this problem of achieving the appropriate balance between remaining faithful to the original work and creating a piece that is readable. I must leave it to the reader to judge the degree of my success. "Hankai" is a tale with a moral theme. It concerns Daizō (later called Hankai), a wild and impetuous country youth who is able, due to his boldness and phenomenal strength, to live as he pleases with little thought for the consequences. At length his crimes force him to flee from his home and keep moving in order to avoid arrest. In the course of his wanderings, he has experiences which exert a maturing influence upon him and gradually bring his latent goodness to the surface. At last he foresakes his evil ways, enters the priesthood, and finally attains enlightenment. The tale portrays the Buddhist concept that man is basically good by nature and that through mastery of his passions he can determine his own destiny. But "Hankai" also contains a wealth of references to old Japanese life, history, geography, and literature. I have tried to clarify such points in a way that would prove informative and interesting to both the casual reader and the more serious student of things Japanese. Approximately one thrid of this thesis is devoted to footnotes. Information for this study was gleaned from a variety of sources in both English and Japanese. Specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias— literary dictionaries, biographical dictionaries, historical dictionaries, Japanese language dictionaries, geographical dictionaries— proved extremely helpful. Collections of Japanese literary works, both in their original form andin translation, helped in clarifying the allusions to literature. Considerable information came from specialized studies in books and periodicals on such topics as Japanese history, philosophy, religion, customs, literature, and on the life and works of Ueda Akinari. Despite its limitations, it is hoped that this study will in some way prove helpful in introducing the literature of Japan to the West.

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