THE STORY OF YURIWAKA: A Japanese Odyssey by Erik & Masako Haugaard--Adapt. & Trans. Haugaard


Email this review


An introductory note explains that the story of Odysseus, as told in Japan by 16th century European traders or missionaries, was adopted and became a ""native tale."" Haugaard, an expatriate Dane well-known for his trenchant historical fiction (The Little Fishes, 1967), here joins his Japanese wife in retelling the result, which retains the epic's essential frame but omits the hero's lengthy, adventurous journey. Yuriwaka, sent by the Emperor to quell marauders on the distant island of Kyushu, is on his way home with two trusted officers when they treacherously abandon him on another island, stealing his ship and his iron bow. With the help of his remarkable hawk, he manages to communicate with his faithful wife, imprisoned by the traitor she has refused to wed; eventually, a fisherman takes Yuriwaka home to reveal himself and take his vengeance in an archery contest, using the purloined bow. Told straightforwardly and with little embellishment, the story's lively events hold interest, especially as a variant of the Greek version. The format is unusually appealing, with crisp b&w illustrations combining decorative stylized motifs with more realistic characterizations; there are also three handsome double spreads in color. An unusual multicultural contribution.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
Page count: 42pp
Publisher: Roberts Rinehart