Readers of medieval Japanese literature have long been captivated by its romance and philosophy. In this volume, two acclaimed thirteenth-century classics, The Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike, are presented in translation. The Ten Foot Square Hut (the Hojoki) takes its title from a four and half mat sized Tearoom, the size of the hut in which the hero of the story, Chomei, lives. It offers the memorable reflections of this sensitive aristocrat who has retired from a world filled with violent contrasts and cataclysms to find refuge in nature and Buddhist philosophy. Though this narrative was written 700 years ago, its message continues to have an astonishing timeliness.
Tales of the Heike (selections from the Heike Monogatari) deals with the same period but from a different point of view, supplying the background of Chomei's meditations. It is a collection of episodic stories, written in poetical prose, related to the rise and fall of the Taira clan in twelfth-century Kyoto, one of the great turning points in Japanese history.
The translations, by the late Professor A. L. Sandler, are complemented by an informed Introduction on the background to these masterpieces of Japanese literature.