The Royall Tyler Translation

6 Jun

Royall Tyler

The Tale of Genji has had a lucky history with English-language translators, and a few people have naturally wondered why we are advocating Royall Tyler’s 2001 translation over the others. The other two are by Arthur Waley from 1933 and Edward Seidenstricker from 1976. Waley’s translation may well feature the best English, and Seidenstricker’s has a baroque charm that may make it the most pleasurably engrossing English. But both of these works are the products of a large amount of neatening and straitening–Waley in particular was trying to make his version accessible to the modern reader. Only Tyler has retained all Murasaki’s idiosyncrasies–her slang, her elisions, her abbreviations even when they’re problematic, etc–without sacrificing readability. The Tale of Genji is full of poems, for instance, but while Seidenstricker converts them into iambic pentameter, Tyler retains the more complex meter of the original. In addition, Penguin offers a gorgeous paperback of the Tyler translation that’s stuffed with invaluable supplementary material. So follow the links on the sidebar and get your copy now! (And those of you who wish to read the Waley or Seidenstricker, please keep us updated throughout the summer about your experience with them.)


2 Responses to “The Royall Tyler Translation”

  1. Lauren June 16, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    The Waley translation came out in the UK in 1924!

  2. moho123 October 10, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    This looks like it was a fun project πŸ™‚ Comment to the above: it’s Seidensticker, not Seidenstricker. Did anyone continue to read, if so, where are they? Thanks πŸ™‚

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