Chushingura (The treasury of loyal retainers) / a puppet play by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku, and Namiki Senryu. Translated by Donald Keene Takeda. A Puppet Play. Translated by Donald Keene. Columbia University Press. Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers). Google Preview. Pub Date: April Chushingura. (The treasury of loyal retainers): a puppet play by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi. Shoraku and Namiki Senryu. (UNESCO Collection of Representa-.
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Return to Book Page. A Puppet Play by Izumo Takeda. Written around as a puppet play, it is now better know in Kabuki performances.
In the twentieth century, tge and television versions have been equally successful. Donald Keene here presents a complete translation of the original text, with notes and an introduction that increase the reader’s comprehension and enjoyment of the play.
The introduction also elucidates the idea of loyalty. This traditional virtue, as exemplified in Chushingura, has never completely lost its hold on audiences, in spite of twentieth-century changes in Japanese society and moral ideas.
Chushingrua, as Professor Keene points out, the excitement, color and violence expressed in the play may be considered the counterpoint to the austere restraint and understatement which are more commonly thought to be “traditionally” Japanese.
Paperbackpages. Published April by Columbia University Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Where is this book available online? Lists with This Book. Sep 19, Steve added it Shelves: ;uppet Shogun then went further, confiscating the lord’s properties and casting out all his family puplet retainers. The now masterless samurai ronin of the late lord Asano revenged his death a few years later by attacking the flunkey’s mansion, killing him and placing his severed head upon Asano’s gravesite.
After deliberating for some time and calling in the advice of leading philosophers! Which, of course, they did. Not two weeks later the first play based on the incident was performed and promptly shut down by the authorities.
This story of duty resolutely carried out to the most extreme lengths resonated within the core of the Japanese people and became the basis for a nearly boundless waterfall of plays, novels and films. I’m not one of them, so I’ll have to leave a comparative study aside here. In the early ‘s, Tamenaga Shunsui felt safe enough to move the setting of his novelistic fictionalization of the story, which I review here https: Another was to make 47 the number of rebellious ronin, for that is the number of kana letters, let’s call them in one of the main Japanese writing systems.
In some chuushingura the 47th ronin dies before the final chushingurw for some reason or another. The multiple authorship of this play, in which, according to experts, different authors wrote different acts, led to a recognized unevenness in quality among the acts, as well as inconsistencies in the characters, resulting in one particular character being played by one actor early in the play and by another at the end! But it also resulted in a great variety in the scenes, which has contributed greatly to the dominance of this particular play in the tradition, according to Keene.
Reading theater, as opposed to seeing it performed as intended, is problematic – one can only appreciate certain aspects of the piece. Not unexpectedly, the text is much less formal than Noh plays; there are long passages of natural conversation. The many moments when a Noh play intensifies its language to high poetry are absent in this play. The narrator’s role is to describe the action and setting in lieu of stage directions in nearly the same manner as the narrator of an occidental novel.
A modern Western reader needs to make very little adjustment in their literary expectations when undertaking this text. Though I appreciated Shunsui’s portrayal of mid-Tokugawa society, going well beyond the tale of the 47 ronin, this play is less sentimental and less repetitive than his novel The Loyal Ronins.
The characters are more clearly and convincingly drawn, and, probably due to the lack of digression, the powerful underlying drama of the incident is more effectively brought to the fore in the play.
Unlike the novel, the play builds up to the initial wounding of the flunkey, which, after all, precipitated all of the tragedy, in a foreboding manner that made the wounding ineluctable instead of merely a sudden hot headed act of anger though, in fact, there is one. There are also moments of comedic relief, and consider this: A treeasury places her hand in a man’s hand and indirectly suggests a tryst.
At that moment, from a Noh play being performed in the castle wafts over to the pair the line “I approach the base of the pine and rub the trunk Nor were they in the least prudish about violence – the many forms of violent death are described in great detail by the narrator. This play, even more than the classic texts on bushido the way of retainres samuraibrings home to me the terrible coherence and alienness of a culture willing to sacrifice absolutely everything and everybody to a code of honor in which duty to one’s liege is far and away the highest value, where parents will sell their daughter into prostitution so that their son-in-law will have money to contribute to a monument to his deceased liege and she goes willingly in the name of her duty to her husband and parentsjust to mention one example of many.
It is made clear in the play that not everyone is equal to the demands of this duty, but that those who are are the most admirable of human beings.
Now imagine that fo play would be at the center retaainers your culture Briefly, the puppets are large and not manipulated by strings from above or hands from below, but by three operators garbed in black who stand behind the puppet in full view of the audience. The operators are silent.
One man at the side of the stage, the Tayu, accompanied by a samisen player, recites all the parts as well as his part of narrator. A little introduction, as well as excerpts from a performance, can be seen here: A lengthier broadcast may be found here: Keene provides an excellent introduction and footnotes to help the lay reader with retaiers and context. View all 5 comments. I do not want to give too much of the plot away, since the play is very ppay and proves to be a very quick read.
Chushingura is about samurai whose master is forced to commit seppuku ritual suicidemaking them ronin master less samurai.
They pledge to avenge the death of their late master and plan to attack the man who provoked their master to disgrace his honor. The play was written by three different playwrights, which is why some of the characters personalities change drastically throug I do chhshingura want to give too retainefs of the plot away, since the play is very short and proves to be a very quick read.
The play was written by three different playwrights, which is why some of the characters personalities change drastically throughout the play. The play does an amazing job showing the devotion of samurai to their code of ethics and to their masters. The samurai believed in their duty to their master to the point that they would commit seppuku if they felt that they had disgraced their master in any way.
It also shows how much the family of a samurai has to devote to the master, like the wives being sold as prostitutes to help fund the plan to avenge their late master. The play was originally written for the puppet theater, bunraku, but was originally adapted into a play for the kabuki theater. Since the original play was written there have been numerous adaptations in film, novels, and television productions.
I would definitely recommend Chushingura to anyone who has a love of Japan or who find samurai interesting. I do not read many plays, but I was able to be enveloped in the story and was lkyal compelled by it that I finished it the day that I started cuhshingura.
However if you have not seen any of the adaptations of the book, I would recommend saving the intro for last because treasur does give away many of the important twists loyao turns of the storyline which kind of ruined the shock factor of some of the famous parts of the play.
Oct 25, Carolin rated it it was amazing.
At first I didn’t want to list it here as I had to read this play for a class about Japanese history but then I really enjoyed and thought it’d also fit my private reading taste ; This story is based on a real event – the avenge of the 47 ronin even if there were only 46 of them in The play is set some centuries earlier but still depicts how intensely the action was discussed by then as the Tokugawa period was a time of change, peaceful and for the samurai then hard to find a place to fi At first I didn’t want to list it here as I had to read this tue for a class about Japanese history but then I really enjoyed and thought it’d also fit my private reading taste ; This story is based on a real event – the avenge of the 47 ronin even if there were only 46 of them in The play is set some centuries earlier but still depicts how intensely the action was discussed by then as the Tokugawa period was a time of retainerx, peaceful and for the samurai then hard to find a place to fit in.
The old rules of deep loyalty to their master were still important but a new system was becoming stronger: After the ronin masterless samurai attack the enemy of their dead lord they act according to the old rules breaking the shogunate law by that. What follows is a long and very emotional discussion about the righteousness of this behavior and this play is chusbingura of it. But not only that, at the same time it’s full with love, fights, betrayal, braveness and sacrifice – a compelling story to read even nowadays.
Nov 05, Laela rated it it was amazing Shelves: Definitely a Japanese classic. If you’re ever looking for a book on loyalty, this is the one. Not one thing said and not one action was done without thoughts of loyalty.
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It did kind of get redundant, but it was interesting to be able to experience reading a classic Japanese text. One thing that was tough about reading this was keeping track of the names.
Characters were at times referred to in different ways so just keeping track of everything was a little difficult. An interesting aspect of this Definitely a Japanese classic. An interesting aspect of this play is what it gets from the bunraku puppet theatre of Japan.
In this type of theatre, characters would commit ritual suicide, but after they stab themselves, they continue to have long speeches about how loyal they are to their retainers. When reading the play, it’s a bit odd, but one interesting thing to note about the text.
Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers): A Puppet Play by Izumo Takeda
Jan 20, Kaila rated it liked it Shelves: I’m going to see this as a kabuki in March. I’ll try to remember at that time to come back and write a rating – I don’t think reading it as a play does it justice. Edit, after seeing the kabuki play: It was heavily retainets, as the play is very long and would be over 10 hours if the entire thing were performed.
As it stood, it retianers still a 3 hour play. I stayed completely enthralled, but then again, I have been studying Japanese literature all quarter and had read the pla I’m going to see this as a kabuki in March. I stayed completely enthralled, but then again, I have been studying Japanese literature all quarter and had read the play, so I knew what was happening.
The people I brought with me thought it overly long. There were little to no stage directions in my edition, so actually seeing what was happening was way more compelling than just reading lines. It made it a better story for sure. It is very strange and just seems really foreign without a lot of context. Oct 12, James Violand rated it really liked it Shelves: