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The video clip provides excerpts from a conversation with poet and translator Peter MacMillan. His insights infuse these classics with life, rendering fresh relevance for today.
The Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari) is a classic collection of waka poetry from the Heian period. The culture and manners of life at court, love, and the beauty of nature are some of the works' themes that continue to resonate in present day Japan.
Famed Japanologist Donald Keene praised Peter MacMillan as "the premier translator of Japanese literature of his generation," but MacMillan makes clear his humble struggles to communicate both the beauty and original sensibility of these classic texts to readers of modern English.
Peter MacMillan is a prize-winning translator, scholar, poet, and artist. He graduated first in his class from the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin, and then went on to take an M.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D. in English literature. He spent two years as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton, Columbia, and Oxford universities. MacMillan teaches at The University of Tokyo and Tokyo Women's Christian University. A citizen of both Ireland and Britain, he has lived in Japan for about thirty years and strives to be a bridge between Japan and the world. He creates prints under his artist name, Seisai. Peter's translation, One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin Isshu), was published in 2008, winning prizes in both Japan and the United States. His English translation of the Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari) was published by Penguin in 2016. He has also published a collection of poetry, Admiring Fields. MacMillan serves as a Councilor of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.
The Tales of Ise <Set C>
1. Peter MacMillan on his selection of The Tales of Ise
Peter explains the function of "uta monogatari" poem tales in the work, how the tales are remade with a fresh fictional background, and the beauty of the Japanese courtly world of the 9th century.
2. On authorship of The Tales of Ise and the Miyabi aesthetic
Peter describes the unity of tone and theme that emerge clearly from The Tales of Ise, despite disputes of authorship. Evanescence and courtly behavior in love are discussed.
3. On sense of place in The Tales of Ise
In this clip, Peter reviews the physical world of The Tales of Ise, famous places, and geographic literary indications.