Ise monogatari is one of classical Japan's most important texts. It influenced other literary court romances like The Tale of Genji and inspired artists, playwrights, and poets throughout Japanese history and to the present day.
In a series of 125 loosely connected episodes, the Ise tells the story of a famous lover, Captain Ariwara no Narihira (825-880), and his romantic encounters with women throughout Japan. Each episode centers on an exchange of love poems designed to demonstrate wit, sensitivity, and courtliness.
Joshua Mostow and Royall Tyler present a fresh, contemporary translation of this classic work, together with a substantial commentary for each episode. The commentary explores how the text has been read in the past and identifies not only the point of each episode, but also the full range of historical interpretations, many of which shaped the use of the Ise in later literary and visual arts. The book includes reproductions from a version of the 1608 Saga-bon printed edition of the Ise, the volume that established Ise iconography for the entire Edo period (1600-1868).