Kyokutei BakinSep 28, 2021
Eight Dogs, or "Hakkenden"
Part One—An Ill-Considered Jest
Cornell University Press 2021
Kyokutei Bakin's Nansō Satomi hakkenden is one of the monuments of Japanese literature. This multigenerational samurai saga was one of the most popular and influential books of the nineteenth century and has been adapted many times into film, television, fiction, and comics. An Ill-Considered Jest, the first part of Hakkenden, tells the story of the Satomi clan patriarch Yoshizane and his daughter Princess Fuse. An ill-advised comment forces Yoshizane to betroth his daughter to the family dog, creating a supernatural union that ultimately produces the Eight Dog Warriors. Princess Fuse's heroic and tragic sacrifice, and her strength, intelligence, and self-determination throughout, render her an immortal character within Japanese fiction. Eight Dogs is the culmination of centuries of premodern Japanese tale-telling, combining aspects of historical romance, fantasy, Tokugawa-era popular fiction, and Chinese vernacular stories. Glynne Walley's lively translation--Eight Dogs, or 'Hakkenden': Part One—An Ill-Considered Jest (Cornell UP, 2021)--conveys the witty and colorful prose of the original, producing a faithful and entertaining edition of this important literary classic.
Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.