The Heike Story by Eiji Yoshikawa is an epic historical fiction novel originally published in Japan in 1950. The English version was translated by Fuki Uramatsu and first released in in 1956. In a beautiful fictionalized story, the book chronicles Kyoto Imperial Court corruption in the 12th century and all the intrigues, scandals, feuds, and love affairs that came with it.
Twelfth century Japan, especially Kyoto, was a period of authority decadency, aristocracy disintegration, and widespread samurai brawls. Corruptions and scandals went unchecked behind the curtain while warfare was always looming. In such time, Kiyomori emerged from poverty and harsh life to be one of the most powerful person in Japan.
Cover and Details of The Heike Story by Eiji Yoshikawa (PDF)
- Title: The Heike Story
- Author: Eiji Yoshikawa
- Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
- Date Published: December 15, 1989
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804833184
- ISBN-13: 9780804833189
Summary of the Book
Kyoto in the twelfth century was a magnificent city, but crime, disorder, and lust were rampant. The people were abused by the nobility, while the armed Buddhist monks terrorized court and commoner alike. In despair, the Emperor called upon the Heike and Genji clans to quell civil disturbances. Although the clans succeeded, they quarreled over the spoils of war and plunged the country into a century of warfare.
This novel describes the rise to power of Kiyomori of the Heike clan during this turbulent time. From a youth sunk in poverty, Kiyomori eventually rose to become the Emperor’s Chief Councillor. Although he was a gentle, enlightened man, he left a trail of bloodshed and ruin in his wake. The strange twists of Kiyomori’s fate are the core of this epic novel.
Reviews of The Heike Story
Like the previous two reviewers I too have lived in Japan and speak some Japanese (in fact I work as a Japanese/English translator), and I have to say that personally I quite enjoyed this book. Yoshikawa’s novel is based on the Heike Monogatari (Tale of the Heike), which is a classic of Japanese literature and one of the best historical sources of the late Heian Period in Japan. “Heike Story” remains true to the history but fleshes it out in a way that brings the historical characters to life. The translation seemed fine to me, and I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese history and culture, and especially the late Heian and early Kamakura Periods. (A customer, amazon.com)
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