AS I CROSSED A BRIDGE OF DREAMS: The Recollections of a Woman in Eleventh-Century Japan by Ivan -- Trans. Morris

AS I CROSSED A BRIDGE OF DREAMS: The Recollections of a Woman in Eleventh-Century Japan

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Like Sei Shonagon and Lady Murasaki, the anonymous author of this Japanese classic was a lady of the imperial court -- one of those fabulous women unparalleled in world literature. However Lady Sarashina (as she is called here for convenience) came late to service and therefore was too timid and inept to make any great social success. She took her lovers vicariously from The Tale of Genji. She seems to have divided her leisure between travel and literature and her writing reflects a solipsism in which personal encounters are sensitized to the point of pain and every joy prefigures loss. In her sense of tire ephemeral she turns as often to dream as to reality, expresses herself as often in poetry as prose; and her attention is so fixed on fragile immediacies that contemporary civil wars, for example, receive no notice. Still she has left some of the earliest travel writing extant and it is a sometimes striking remnant of her own rice-tissue sensibility. Morris' version reflects the most recent Japanese textual corrections and his translation, unlike barbarously eccentric earlier English versions, is unobtrusively graceful. His scholarly introduction and notes, as well as photographs and woodcuts from an 18th-century edition, make a handsomely substantial package of Lady Sarashina's very slight text. But neither time nor glorious production is likely to extend her appeal by much. Morris is best known as translator of The Pillow Book of Sci Shonagon (1967) and author of The World of the Shining Prince (1964).

Pub Date: June 11th, 1971
Publisher: Dial