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Sagoromo and Hamamatsu on Genji: Eleventh-Century Tales as Commentary on Genji monogatari

Sagoromo and Hamamatsu on Genji: Eleventh-Century Tales as Commentary on Genji monogatari

By Royall Tyler

Japan Review, Vol.18 (2006)

Abstract: Although avowed comment on Genji monogatari begins only in the second half of the twelfth century, late Heian fiction written under obvious Genji influence sometimes suggests how earlier readers interpreted this or that aspect of the tale. This essay cites from Hamamatsu Chūnagon monogatari and Sagoromo monogatari passages bearing on three issues: (1) the meaning of the Genji chapter title “Yume no ukihashi,” (2) the question of what happens to Ukifune between “Ukifune” and “Tenarai,” and (3) the significance of Genji’s affair with Fujitsubo. The paper follows each of these threads in Genji reception through the medieval and into modern times, in order to show that in each case Hamamatsu (for the first issue) and Sagoromo (for the second and third) comment significantly on Genji. In particular, Sagoromo monogatari sheds interesting light on the third issue, which is critical to any interpretation of Genji monogatari.

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