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19746Man and place and season

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    May 4, 2008
      Reading Edward G. Seidensticker's introduction to his translation of
      Murasaki Shikibu's 11th cent. _Tale of Genji_ (Everyman's Library
      ed.), I was struck by the following claim (p. xv):

      "If the _Genji_ is loosely constructed and inconclusive, it is also
      strongly lyrical, especially in its treatment of nature and fusion of
      man and place and season, of foreground and background. In probably no
      major Occidental work of fiction is one so constantly aware of the
      seasons and the phases of the moon."

      Needless to say, we here all in fact know of _one_ "major Occidental
      work" that is striking in this characteristic. (And, unlike the
      _Genji_, which as a work of the Orient referred all times and seasons
      to a lunar calendar, the prominence of the moon in _The Lord of the
      Rings_ is far from inevitable.) Alas, I expect academic blinders
      excluded Tolkien from Seidensticker's survey of "major Occidental

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