Summary: Heike monogatari
Comment: This is not a translation of the mediaeval classic of the same name, but a modern novel based on its core events, namely the rise to power and fall of Taira Kiyomori and his clan, also known as the Heike.
Summary: Heike tale shortchanged
Comment: I am a Japanophile and history buff, so I loved this author's "Musashi" and "Taiko" novels. I finally got around to this and am quite disappointed. I agree with those who have found this translation weak---the dialogue sections are stilted and the feelings of the characters seem awkwardly expressed in English. The worst damage to the novel is the abridgement of entire sections, deletion of characters and incidents and the condensation of some chapters. As noted at the end of the "Historical background" section, this is an "English version" of the novel!
Eiji Yoshikawa is definitely ill served by this version and the publisher should seriously consider having a new translation made. As it stands, this version does not even cover the fall of the Heike---which is the main point of the whole chronicle.
Still, Yoshikawa weaves a good tale---he gives a human face to historical events. What delights have English readers been deprived of by this badly mangled version?
Summary: Misconceptions on Japanese culture in translation
Comment: Despite what some of the previous reviewers have said, this translation is not that bad.
For the record, a rice-ball is just that -- a ball of rice. In Japanese, it's an "onigiri." Basically historical Japanese fast food. Sushi did not exist in the 12th century. Why *not* call sake wine? Would these reviewers be upset that "lager" is usually called just "beer"?
And "general of the guards" has nothing to do with the shogunate. Since when is the shogun a palace GUARD?
As for Minister of the Left: The Great Council of State -- which governed Japan -- was headed by three ministers: Minister of the Left, M. of the Right, and M. of the Center. The Left was senior to the other two.
Could this have been a better translation? Definitely. And for many reasons. But not for any of the ones whinged about in previous reviews.
Summary: Another Classic Yoshikawa
Comment: This is another great book by Yoshikawa and would recommend to any readers interested in Japanese history and warfare.
Some readers may not like the translation. Many words have been translated into their actual meanings, e.g. "sushi" to "rice ball"; "sake" to "wine"; "geisha" to "dancing girls" etc., instead of throwing in well known Japanese terms. But I don't find this a problem, the translator was being consistent all the way.
The translation is, however, weak in the explanation of titles and posts, e.g. "General of the Imperial Guards" = "Shogun?"; "Minister of the Left"; "Councilor". If the tranlation had included an appendix for the titles and posts, it will surely make the book a more enjoyable read.
Notwithstanding, I don't think readers will require much knowledge regarding Japanese culture and history to enjoy this book.
Hope to see more books by Yoshikawa translated into English. Will be nice to have "Yoritomo of the Genji" translated into English too, it being a companion book for "The Heike Story" and continues the story to the creation of the Kamakura Shogunate.
Summary: GREAT story, bad translation
Comment: First, I'll say that this book is fantastic. The plot and storyline fascinating. Yoshikawa is a great storyteller. However, I deplore the translation. In the copy of the book that I found, entire chapters were taken out of the book to supposedly accomodate someone unfamiliar with japanese language, culture, history, and geography. I was disgusted by the fact that this classic novel was butchered so bad. As a previous review explains, sushi is renamed "rice balls" and sake is renamed "wine". I've never been to japan, but i can speak it a bit, and through reading alot of japanese novels I have come to have a very good understanding of its geography and history. Had they left everything in, an ignorant reader could have just not paid attention to geography, historical significance, etc. But instead, someone who loves and admires japan and wishes to receive the fullest experience like me feels robbed.