Classic literature Not my thing But famous and a required read for Japanese majors. There s a rewarding experience in here, but reaching it may require real work The Heike Monogatari seems to encompass history, legend, and tall tales, organized as a stream of recollections which may digress abruptly within a recollection itself One chapter or subsection may include someone who is later introduced as the lead in his or her own anecdote, as though the storyteller is clarifying or expanding upon an interesting topic.I found it a book to be studied, rather than read linearly As it progressed, of my time became consumed in consulting the index to see if a name has appeared before and in what context. I should probably have given it five stars had it been only the Ten Foot Square Hut which I have read and re read many times. I ordered this book for the Ten Foot Square Hut, a short reflection on home that I enjoyed Most of the book is Tales of the Heike, which surprised me Anyone interested solely in the The Ten Foot Square Hut might consider ordering Four Huts Asian Writings on Simple Life It s a series of four short reflections similar to and including the Ten Foot Square Hut In the version with the Tales however, turmoil is echoed by the softness of the Ten Foot Square Hut The two juxtaposed make for an interesting read.Tales of the Heike is composed of entertaining little stories episodes vignettes that strung together serve as historical record Many names and titles I did not recognize but this didn t diminish the experience It actually enhanced it It encouraged me to pay closer attention to the characters, what they represent and their relationships with one another Though the Tales are heavily historical, they re also extremely poetic Tragedies, triumphs and even passing moments are gently wrapped in elegant prose I was fascinated to learn the ways in which the Japanese infuse art, poetry and music into everything they do even in the heat of battle, a moment of poetic reflection was always in order That I can appreciate, especially since these stories are centuries old I plan to reread the Tales and piece together of the story.Until then, it will remain on my shelf as a rewarding and entertaining piece of literature that inspired me in many ways. 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 Chomei, a friend of the moon and the wind, content with a simple but tasteful and natural existence, devotes his days to literature and music, walks, and visits 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 It narrates the events surrounding the Gempei Wars of 1181 5, in which an alliance of clans led by the Minamoto drove the once mighty Taira and their allies from the capital, chasing them as far as the southern island of Kyushu in an attempt to exterminate every last member of the clan The Taira leaders, scorning surrender in the face of utter defeat by the Minamoto clan, threw themselves into the sea and perished.The translations, by the late Professor A L Sandler, a distinguished devotee of Japan and its culture, are complemented by an informed Introduction on the background to these masterpieces of Japanese literature.