Nansō Satomi Hakkenden
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Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (Japanese: (in kyūjitai) 南總里見八犬傳; (in shinjitai) 南総里見八犬伝, the older and modern kanji character forms, respectively) is a Japanese epic novel in 106 volumes by Kyokutei Bakin. The volumes were written and published over a period of nearly thirty years (1814 to 1842). Bakin had gone blind before finishing the tale, and he dictated the final parts to his daughter-in-law Michi. The title has been translated as The Eight Dog Chronicles, Tale of Eight Dogs, or Biographies of Eight Dogs.
Plot and influences
Set in the tumultuous Sengoku period (350 years before Bakin lived), Hakkenden is the story of eight samurai half-brothers—all of them descended from a dog and bearing the word "dog" in their surnames—and their adventures, with themes of loyalty and family honor, as well as Confucianism, bushido and Buddhist philosophy.
One of the direct inspiration sources of the novel is the 14th-17th-century Chinese epic novel Water Margin by Shi Nai'an.[how?] Japanese translations date back to at least 1757, when the first volume of an early Suikoden (Water Margin rendered in Japanese) was printed.
The story of a princess marrying a dog who brings her father the head of his enemy seems to be a reference to the Chinese myth of Panhu.
An earlier serial novel by Bakin, Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki (椿説弓張月) (Strange Tales of the Crescent Moon) had been illustrated by the famous ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, but the two did not work well together. For Hakkenden, Hokusai's son-in-law, Yanagawa Shigenobu was employed as illustrator instead.
A complete reprinting in ten volumes is available in the original Japanese, as well as various modern Japanese translations, most of them abridged. Only a few chapters are available translated into English, ch. 25 by Donald Keene and chs. 12, 13, and 19 by Chris Drake. A full translation is currently in progress.
History of reception
Though hugely popular at the time of publication and into the early twentieth century, Bakin's work lost favour after the Meiji Restoration, it came back into fashion later in the 20th century.
In live-action film and TV there are numerous adaptions: the first in 1938, then a series in the 1950s, and since the influential TV series Shin Hakkenden (新八犬伝) from the early 1970s, every decade has had either a live-action adaptation or a show significantly influenced by the novel, right up through the 2010s.
- ^ Kyokutei Bakin (1819) "Shino and Hamaji". In Keene, Donald (Ed.) ( 1960) Anthology of Japanese Literature: from the earliest era to the mid-nineteenth century, pp. 423–428. New York, NY: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-5058-6
- ^ Kyokutei Bakin (1819) "Fusehime at Toyama Cave," "Fusehime's Decision," "Shino in Otsuka Village," "Hamaji and Shino". Translated by Chris Drake in Haruo Shirane (Ed.) (2002) Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology 1600-1900, pp. 885–909. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-10991-1
- Shirane, Haruo (2002). Early Modern Japanese Literature: an Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia University Press. p. 886. ISBN 0-231-10990-3.
- Rimer, J. Thomas (2007). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868-1945. Coughlan Publishing. p. 196. ISBN 0-231-11861-9.
- Keene, Donald (1955). Anthology of Japanese Literature, From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Grove Press. p. 423. ISBN 0-8021-5058-6.
- Shirane and Brandon, Early Modern Japanese Literature, p564.
- Nansō Satomi Hakkenden on IMDb
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