Okay, we've got the makings of a plan! For The Tale of Genji
, I plan to read the Arthur Waley translation. It is known to be somewhat loose and free, but it is the most beloved and poetic translation into English. In the 1970s, I read the Seidensticker translation, which was new at the time and considered the most scholarly and accurate. I found it a bit dry. The Waley translation has been compared to Proust. Many Japanese read The Tale of Genji
in a modern Japanese translation of Waley's translation (since the original is as impenetrable to modern Japanese speakers as the Old English of Beowulf is to English speakers.) You may wish to read a more modern translation. There are a couple that have been published relatively recently. But I've been wanting to experience Waley for several years, to see if it works the magic on me that it worked on so many others..
For The Story of the Stone,
I plan to read the David Hawkes translation in Penguin. I'm not sure what I read about 1980, but I think it was an abridgment. I no longer have the volume (although I still have Seidensticker's Genji.) In contrast to my intentions with Genji, I want to read what is generally considered the most authoritative translation of Cao Xueqin's masterpiece.
These Asian classics are extremely long. We certainly should not read them back to back. Let's read The Last Chronicle of Barset
next. (I am reading the Tabucchi right now.) The Trollope novel is quite long (900+ pages), but much less long than the Asian classics. Perhaps we can finish the Trollope by the end of the year since the Tabucchi is short. I have no preference after that. Maybe go ahead and plunge into The Tale of Genji
? Or maybe Palace Walk
. Let me know what you would prefer.
I'm definitely interested in the Chinese and Japanese classics you want to (re) read, so let's go ahead. Your advice on translations and editions would be very helpful, as I know nothing about them. "The Last Chronicle of Barset" (my copy, that is) has just arrived, as I was planning to read it during November. Let's leave aside "I am a Cat" (I'll share my comments on it with you, if I find it interesting).
So we have a list:
1. Martin Chuzzlewit
2. The Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone)
3. The Tale of Genji
4. Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead
5. Death in Veracruz
6. Palace Walk
7. They Were Counted (Transylvanian Trilogy)
Do you suggest any particular order?
PS: an interesting thing about this list is its multi-national character: British, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Mexican, Egyptian, and Hungarian.