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Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text

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Reading great books in the original should be the culmination of language study, but reading Japanese literature unassisted is a daunting task that can defeat even the most able of students. Breaking into Japanese Literature is specially designed to help you bypass all the frustration and actually enjoy classics of Japanese literature. Breaking into Japanese Literature feat Reading great books in the original should be the culmination of language study, but reading Japanese literature unassisted is a daunting task that can defeat even the most able of students. Breaking into Japanese Literature is specially designed to help you bypass all the frustration and actually enjoy classics of Japanese literature. Breaking into Japanese Literature features seven graded stories covering a variety of genres: whether it's the spellbinding surrealism of Natsume Soseki's Ten Nights of Dreams, the humor of Akutagawa Ryunosuke's fable of temple life (The Nose), or the excitement of his historic thrillers (In a Grove and Rashomon), you are sure to find a story that appeals to you in this collection. The unique layout-with the original Japanese story in large print, an easy-to-follow English translation and a custom dictionary-was created for maximum clarity and ease of use. There's no need to spend time consulting reference books when everything you need to know is right there in front of your nose. To make Japanese literature fun, Breaking into Japanese Literature also has some unique extra features: mini-biographies to tell you about the authors' lives and works, individual story prefaces to alert you to related works of literature or film, and original illustrations to fire your imagination. Best of all, MP3 sound files of all the stories have been made available for FREE on the Internet. Breaking into Japanese Literature provides all the backup you need to break through to a new and undiscovered world-the world of great Japanese fiction. All the hard work has been taken care of so you can enjoy the pleasures of the mind. Why not take advantage? Learn o 50% of all common-use kanji covered o Kanji entry numbers given for follow-up study o Japanese + English translation + custom dictionary on the same page o Every single kanji word explained Listen o Free download of sound files from the Net Look o 7 original atmospheric illustrations Link o Original stories for Kurosawa's Rashomon and Dreams All the stories in this book are available on the Internet as MP3 sound files read by professional Japanese actors. For students who want to consolidate their understanding of kanji, the entry numbers for any of the 2,230 characters in The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary have been provided when those characters feature in Breaking into Japanese Literature. This makes cross-referencing a matter of seconds.


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Reading great books in the original should be the culmination of language study, but reading Japanese literature unassisted is a daunting task that can defeat even the most able of students. Breaking into Japanese Literature is specially designed to help you bypass all the frustration and actually enjoy classics of Japanese literature. Breaking into Japanese Literature feat Reading great books in the original should be the culmination of language study, but reading Japanese literature unassisted is a daunting task that can defeat even the most able of students. Breaking into Japanese Literature is specially designed to help you bypass all the frustration and actually enjoy classics of Japanese literature. Breaking into Japanese Literature features seven graded stories covering a variety of genres: whether it's the spellbinding surrealism of Natsume Soseki's Ten Nights of Dreams, the humor of Akutagawa Ryunosuke's fable of temple life (The Nose), or the excitement of his historic thrillers (In a Grove and Rashomon), you are sure to find a story that appeals to you in this collection. The unique layout-with the original Japanese story in large print, an easy-to-follow English translation and a custom dictionary-was created for maximum clarity and ease of use. There's no need to spend time consulting reference books when everything you need to know is right there in front of your nose. To make Japanese literature fun, Breaking into Japanese Literature also has some unique extra features: mini-biographies to tell you about the authors' lives and works, individual story prefaces to alert you to related works of literature or film, and original illustrations to fire your imagination. Best of all, MP3 sound files of all the stories have been made available for FREE on the Internet. Breaking into Japanese Literature provides all the backup you need to break through to a new and undiscovered world-the world of great Japanese fiction. All the hard work has been taken care of so you can enjoy the pleasures of the mind. Why not take advantage? Learn o 50% of all common-use kanji covered o Kanji entry numbers given for follow-up study o Japanese + English translation + custom dictionary on the same page o Every single kanji word explained Listen o Free download of sound files from the Net Look o 7 original atmospheric illustrations Link o Original stories for Kurosawa's Rashomon and Dreams All the stories in this book are available on the Internet as MP3 sound files read by professional Japanese actors. For students who want to consolidate their understanding of kanji, the entry numbers for any of the 2,230 characters in The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary have been provided when those characters feature in Breaking into Japanese Literature. This makes cross-referencing a matter of seconds.

30 review for Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carola

    Let me refer you to Christian's spot-on review. This book was... not that great. But let me start off on a positive note: I enjoyed the stories. The book contains seven short stories in total, by Natsume Sōseki and Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. The selection of stories, content wise, is good. The stories are quite dark, which I love, and I especially like Akutagawa, so reading these stories wasn't boring. Now for the negative... The aim of this book is to read Japanese literature in the original language. T Let me refer you to Christian's spot-on review. This book was... not that great. But let me start off on a positive note: I enjoyed the stories. The book contains seven short stories in total, by Natsume Sōseki and Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. The selection of stories, content wise, is good. The stories are quite dark, which I love, and I especially like Akutagawa, so reading these stories wasn't boring. Now for the negative... The aim of this book is to read Japanese literature in the original language. The book is set up to accommodate this: each page contains the original Japanese story on the left page, an English translation on the right page, and vocabulary on the bottom half of both pages. Sounds convenient, but it doesn't quite get it right. There are no grammar explanations, and the English translations are not 100% literal translations either. The same vocab is repeated every page when necessary, which is convenient but also makes you lazy. On the plus side, there are free audio downloads available for each of the stories, if you like to listen to them while reading (I haven't downloaded them, so I don't know if the quality is any good). The stories themselves are, honestly, too difficult for a book like this. They are separated into three different levels: the first stories are the easiest (and of a pretty good level), and then they gradually become more difficult. They are classic stories, and many use words and kanji that are no longer in use. The same goes for some of the grammar. And the grammar and vocabulary was simply too difficult on the whole. It doesn't help that there are no grammar explanations in sight and the translations don't always help with that either (you will get the meaning of the sentence, but you still won't understand the actual grammar). For me the stories were readable, but I'd judge them as high N2 going up to N1 level. This book simply doesn't help anyone 'break into' Japanese literature. If you don't have any prior experience reading Japanese literature in Japanese, this is way too hard. And if you are advanced enough to read stories of this level, there are better choices out there. All of the stories in this book have already been published in English (parts of Soseki's Ten Nights Dreaming, Akutagawa's Rashomon, In the Grove, The Nose..), so if you want to read something new and previously untranslated, this is not a great selection of stories. All in all, a nice book for reading practice at N2+ level. But before buying this book I'd recommend Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers, which is set up better, more accessible level-wise, and has a wider selection of stories (and all of them previously untranslated). If you are looking for more difficult reading material, you might want to check Aozora Bunko instead. The next book in this series has Yukio Mishima *hollow laughter*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stan Murai

    Occasionally, we find books of selected literary works with parallel bilingual texts with the translation of the original text on the facing page. But because of vast differences in the idiom structure and the mode of expression in the Japanese language, the translations are often not a useful guide to the meaning of words that make up the original text. Giles Murray provides the reader with glosses for nearly every single word found in the original, appearing both in kanji and kana characters. This Occasionally, we find books of selected literary works with parallel bilingual texts with the translation of the original text on the facing page. But because of vast differences in the idiom structure and the mode of expression in the Japanese language, the translations are often not a useful guide to the meaning of words that make up the original text. Giles Murray provides the reader with glosses for nearly every single word found in the original, appearing both in kanji and kana characters. This is an enormous aid to the language learner since looking up individual words in a Japanese kanji dictionary can be a daunting task. Amazingly nearly %50 of all common-use kanji (常用漢字 jōyō kanji) are found in the selected texts of this book. Free internet downloads of sound files are also available for the selections as well. Moreover, any learner of Japanese will also have a real sense of accomplishment when finishing any of these selections since they represent well-known works of literature by famous authors.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. First of all, all the stories share some gore/horror atmosphere. Not that it's bad, but for a book advertised simply as "Seven Modern Classics", I don't understand why they chose to go for 7 dark short stories. Second and most important point: those stories are too difficult. Don't get me wrong, I do want to read authentic material and I've already read a handful of Japanese novels (from Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto), but if you're at a stage where you w I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. First of all, all the stories share some gore/horror atmosphere. Not that it's bad, but for a book advertised simply as "Seven Modern Classics", I don't understand why they chose to go for 7 dark short stories. Second and most important point: those stories are too difficult. Don't get me wrong, I do want to read authentic material and I've already read a handful of Japanese novels (from Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto), but if you're at a stage where you want to read parallel texts, I don't see how you could benefit from reading this. It's very humbling at best. Good points: the stories were interesting (despite being all so dark); the layout works well: you never have to flip pages back and forth; the illustrations and introductory notes are a great addition and make the whole visually appealing. There is easier Japanese literature, so don't go ahead "Crashing into Japanese literature".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ian Josh

    I wanted to give this a higher review... I mean, it’s only my own fault that it’s a bit out of my league. Then I thought a bit more and took another look at the cover. This, upon reading it, is obviously for a very high level of Japanese. How high? High enough that using out of use Kanji instead of the modern Versions seemed wise. But that’s how it was written, and so, we don’t want to edit the original text, right? Then why create a cover that suggests this is a study-able book. Why point out that I wanted to give this a higher review... I mean, it’s only my own fault that it’s a bit out of my league. Then I thought a bit more and took another look at the cover. This, upon reading it, is obviously for a very high level of Japanese. How high? High enough that using out of use Kanji instead of the modern Versions seemed wise. But that’s how it was written, and so, we don’t want to edit the original text, right? Then why create a cover that suggests this is a study-able book. Why point out that “50% of all common-use kanji” are used, without adding “and a whole lot that you’ll never see”. The audio being available was useful for some listening practice, but these texts would be a challenge for any native high school graduate, so, the target market was obviously so small that they decided to make it seem to be something it is not. To be honest, I’ve had this book for probably a decade. It’s been opened by a man at various levels of Japanese ability... and has yet to be appropriate, or helpful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    anna mae

    wowieeeeee these are depressing(but beautiful) this book is very conveniently laid out and i wish a million others like it existed!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    It was just okay. The beginning of the book wasn't bad but by the time I got to level two, it was super hard to understand. It's not like I'm native level or something but I majored in the language, lived in the country, and I'm taking the N2 in December so I think I'm decent. However, there was a lot of Japanese I've never used before because it's not modern Japanese, and there were a lot of cases where kanji was used with words that are almost always written in hiragana while there were words It was just okay. The beginning of the book wasn't bad but by the time I got to level two, it was super hard to understand. It's not like I'm native level or something but I majored in the language, lived in the country, and I'm taking the N2 in December so I think I'm decent. However, there was a lot of Japanese I've never used before because it's not modern Japanese, and there were a lot of cases where kanji was used with words that are almost always written in hiragana while there were words in hiragana that are almost always written in kanji. Just all around confusing. The English translations were kind of loose as well so it wasn't super helpful when I struggled with the Japanese texts. I also just didn't really like the stories which is my fault I guess. I really don't like Sōseki and this book has a lot of his stories. I guess my favorite was probably Akutagawa's "The Nose". "In a Grove" and "Rashomon" were grueling to get through. It was only these two authors and they were all horror centered so there wasn't really any variety and it just really wasn't my cup of tea. I have Murray's companion book "Exploring Japanese Literature" which I know has stories like "Snow Country" which I've read in English before, so maybe I'll like that one better. 2.5 Stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aqua

    I don't know how to feel about this book. On the one hand the layout is the best I've ever seen of any of the Japanese reader books for learners. Everything you need is all there on one page: original text, translated text, and all vocab (even audio files are available if you want them). On the other hand, who on earth is this book for? I'm N1 level, and I struggled with this book. I did understand all the grammar and could thus get through the text, but I was constantly stumbling into vocab tha I don't know how to feel about this book. On the one hand the layout is the best I've ever seen of any of the Japanese reader books for learners. Everything you need is all there on one page: original text, translated text, and all vocab (even audio files are available if you want them). On the other hand, who on earth is this book for? I'm N1 level, and I struggled with this book. I did understand all the grammar and could thus get through the text, but I was constantly stumbling into vocab that I did not know. Yes, it's all there in the vocab list, but due to the classical nature of the chosen texts, much of the vocab is entirely useless to all but the nichest of niche learners. It's like giving an advanced English learner 18th or 19th century English (or worse, Shakespeare). That's just something that requires fluency and then some, and only a small number of people are even interested. So I suppose the answer to who this book is for is: N1 level learners interested in classical Japanese literature, however many of those there are. I appreciate that the author has a lot of love for this classical literature, it's just that considering how few dual text readers there are for Japanese and the utility of this book's layout as a learning tool, I wish it were more than just classical literature. Because for the few learners out there who are interested in the classics, I imagine there are a whole lot more interested in reading easier and more modern texts. Admittedly, I've personally never had much interest in reading classical Japanese literature in Japanese (I enjoyed The Tale of Genji and Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters in English, but I harbor no delusions that I will ever be capable of reading these in their original language). I definitely prefer to read more modern Japanese texts. Also, if these texts are representative of the style of Japanese classical literature, then I am even more put off. I hope you like reading about depressed brooding, suicide, murder, rape, corpses, beating up old women, and a really gross description of what can only be described as medieval plastic surgery, because there are a lot of disturbing themes in here. Only two authors, Natsume Soseki and Akutagawa Ryunosuke, are covered here, so it's possible it's just their style. (view spoiler)[I'm also highly annoyed by the moral of the nose story. Everyone bullies this monk for his crazy long nose, so he gets some weird, medieval plastic surgery done to shorten it, and then everyone around him shuns and bullies him even more. I think that the author was attempting to go for the "accept yourself as you are" moral, but he definitely missed the mark. The book never condemns the actions of the bullies (who bullied him even before he changed his nose) or analyzes how their shaming caused so much distress to the monk that he was pushed to pursue such painful surgical methods to change his appearance. In fact the book even seems to imply that the monk deserves the increased bullying for daring to alter his appearance. So is the moral just that plastic surgery is bad? But the book also describes the long nose as getting in the way of daily functions of the monk's life like eating, so even putting aside the fact that no one should be bullying him no matter what his nose looks like, fixing a body part that impairs basic, necessary life functions seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to get plastic surgery to me. (hide spoiler)] Between the genre of the stories, which were not my cup of tea, and the difficult vocab I kept stumbling into, it took me over 2 years to get through this book . I would get so bored and frustrated I would put it down for months at a time. As an example, here is some of the archaic vocab you will come across in this book: 帆綱: halyard (rope for sail) 検非違使: police chief with judicial powers サビ烏帽子: crumpled hat worn by men 寸 (すん): some old counter for length 分 (ぶ): some old counter for length 塗り箙: lacquered quiver 水管: garment worn by commoners 経机: sutra reading desk 中童子: temple page boy And so on, not to mention all the bodhisattva names and classical, outdated forms of words. Again, I would be more apt to like this book if Murray had made this a series with multiple books ranging from easier middle grade, modern adult fiction, to classical literature. But there are only two books in the series, both of which focus on the classics, and according to reviews the second book is even harder! I cannot even fathom. It's got such a great layout and could be a really useful series for encouraging reading ability in learners, far better than any other reader I've seen (no constant flipping to the back of the book for vocab!). If you have a grasp on grammar, you can read it without having a separate dictionary open. I would love to see this series expand to easier and more modern texts, but it was published in 2003 so I don't have much hope. Be wary unless you are high N1 level and have a particular interest in classical Japanese literature, because you may find this book rather challenging and a bit demoralizing. I find trying to read texts that are way too challenging for me to be highly discouraging, so if you are not N1 level yet, I definitely suggest focusing on books that are more at your level. Texts where you are still being challenged and learning new vocab, but that don't cause you to whip out your dictionary every sentence. Here are a few other Japanese reader recommendations that are more modern and easier to read: New Penguin Parallel Text: Short Stories in Japanese Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers Read Real Japanese Essays: Contemporary Writings by Popular Authors

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hawraki

    I started learning Japanese at the begging of this year (2019). I'm still a beginner but I wanted to experience reading the famous stories in the Japanese text. This book provides the hiragana of each Kanji which makes it easy to read, I was glad when I succeeded in reading and understanding some sentences in Japanese, the book is clear, it gives the meaning of each and every Kanji. I will re-read the stories after a while to track my progress in learning the language. I started learning Japanese at the begging of this year (2019). I'm still a beginner but I wanted to experience reading the famous stories in the Japanese text. This book provides the hiragana of each Kanji which makes it easy to read, I was glad when I succeeded in reading and understanding some sentences in Japanese, the book is clear, it gives the meaning of each and every Kanji. I will re-read the stories after a while to track my progress in learning the language.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Molin

    It's a bilingual book with seven short stories from Souseki and Akutagawa. I think this book is very suitable for people who have an interest in japanese literature. From this book we can learn some japanese vocabulary, even they're written in kanji there's furigana and what it means in english. There's no need to explain how good the short stories are in it because they are really good. But ofc, Rashoumon always be my favorite. It's a bilingual book with seven short stories from Souseki and Akutagawa. I think this book is very suitable for people who have an interest in japanese literature. From this book we can learn some japanese vocabulary, even they're written in kanji there's furigana and what it means in english. There's no need to explain how good the short stories are in it because they are really good. But ofc, Rashoumon always be my favorite.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    Invaluable material for N2 students

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alia

    This is a fabulous way to get one's feet wet reading non-textbook Japanese. This book contains 7 short stories, in order of increasing length and complexity, in a bilingual format (Japanese on the left, English on the right). It also has a dictionary for complex or archaic terms used on every page as well as for kanji - every kanji is listed for the first time it appears on the page, along with reference numbers that correspond to the publisher's kanji dictionary. All of these stories are well-k This is a fabulous way to get one's feet wet reading non-textbook Japanese. This book contains 7 short stories, in order of increasing length and complexity, in a bilingual format (Japanese on the left, English on the right). It also has a dictionary for complex or archaic terms used on every page as well as for kanji - every kanji is listed for the first time it appears on the page, along with reference numbers that correspond to the publisher's kanji dictionary. All of these stories are well-known in Japan (by Natsume Soseki and Ryunosuke Akutagawa), and CD recordings of all the stories are also included. This book was really well put-together, and makes reading "actual Japanese" much more accessible to anyone who's just starting out with reading literature. Even for someone more used to reading in Japanese, it's a great introduction to Soseki and Akutagawa! Topic-wise the stories range from the dark (like the selections from Soseki's 'Dreams') to the outright laughable (Akutagawa's 'The Nose'), and also include famous stories like 'In the Grove' and 'Rashomon,' the bases for Akira Kurosawa's film, Rashomon. All in all a wonderful read, and great reading practice in Japanese.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ste

    My favourite of these short stories was "In A Grove" by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke. The differences between the characters' stories range from the trivial to the fundamental. The discrepancies between the various characters' testimonies confuses the western reader, and forces you to recognise the fickleness of human memory and integrity. I also enjoyed "10 Nights of Dreams" by Natume Soseki. The surrealistic atmosphere is palpable. Some of the dreams are weird, others are grotesquely funny. The rhythmic My favourite of these short stories was "In A Grove" by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke. The differences between the characters' stories range from the trivial to the fundamental. The discrepancies between the various characters' testimonies confuses the western reader, and forces you to recognise the fickleness of human memory and integrity. I also enjoyed "10 Nights of Dreams" by Natume Soseki. The surrealistic atmosphere is palpable. Some of the dreams are weird, others are grotesquely funny. The rhythmic tone in which the phrase "こんな夢を見た..." is periodically repeated is itself enough to put you on edge. I'd love to know whether or not Soseki actually had these dreams or whether they were complete fictions. The fact that you can read the text in English next to the Japanese text and also see the translation for uncommon words is a boon. The free audio provided with this book is amazing. It really helped with my pronuciation and listening skills.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I bought this a couple of years ago when I was first learning Japanese. I can't say that I used it to get better at Japanese so much as I used it to gauge my Japanese reading abilities. After a couple of years of study and thinking to myself that maybe I can get through the book now, I can finally say that I can read the stories and get most of the gist of the story without having to constantly look up kanji (or read the companion text). The companion English text is definitely still useful for I bought this a couple of years ago when I was first learning Japanese. I can't say that I used it to get better at Japanese so much as I used it to gauge my Japanese reading abilities. After a couple of years of study and thinking to myself that maybe I can get through the book now, I can finally say that I can read the stories and get most of the gist of the story without having to constantly look up kanji (or read the companion text). The companion English text is definitely still useful for clearing things up for me, though. I'd say this is a useful exercise, but requires a pretty good knowledge of Japanese already in order for these stories to be useful. A beginner should be warned that this book will be very slow reading. As for the stories and the translations, I thought they were excellent stories and that the translations are very well done. As with (what seems like) everything with learning Japanese, it takes a long time to feel like you "get it".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gabor Seprenyi

    Good way to read classic Japanese literature for readers who couldn't cope with the original text alone. I really enjoyed it, but I have to say, even with the parallel English text, it was still difficult to read the stories, probably because they are not contemporary texts. Only recommended to advanced learners/speakers. Good way to read classic Japanese literature for readers who couldn't cope with the original text alone. I really enjoyed it, but I have to say, even with the parallel English text, it was still difficult to read the stories, probably because they are not contemporary texts. Only recommended to advanced learners/speakers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Hollins

    This is my daughter's text book from university where she studied Japanese, I have simply read the English translations of the stories as I hadn't read any Japanese literature before. It is certainly a very different style of writing. I liked these stories, and I look forward to finding more Japanese stories. This is my daughter's text book from university where she studied Japanese, I have simply read the English translations of the stories as I hadn't read any Japanese literature before. It is certainly a very different style of writing. I liked these stories, and I look forward to finding more Japanese stories.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Wes Martin

    An excellent introduction to Japanese literature, this book has several short stories by classic Japanese authors in both English and Japanese, with the Japanese vocabulary for each page available right on the bottom for easy reference. Highly recommended, even if you are only reading the English translations!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jared Davis

    I’m a fan of parallel texts. these stories aren’t my favorite, but the amount of effort (and editorial courage) in publishing this deserves respect

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jane Fudger

    The short stories in the UK translation were fine but only took half a page of two pages as much was written in Japanese as an aid to learning to write the lnguage

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tra-Kay

    There's no denying it, no other book like this exists. (Except the Snow Country one that came after it.) If you have Japanese friends, they'll tell you that the language and some of the kanji usage is out of date. There are also a couple of minor errors that can lead to momentary major frustration, like the final sentence in English on 203 that actually belongs alongside the Japanese on 204. It doesn't matter. It's worth it a hundred times over. Read through this book and you won't be at the same There's no denying it, no other book like this exists. (Except the Snow Country one that came after it.) If you have Japanese friends, they'll tell you that the language and some of the kanji usage is out of date. There are also a couple of minor errors that can lead to momentary major frustration, like the final sentence in English on 203 that actually belongs alongside the Japanese on 204. It doesn't matter. It's worth it a hundred times over. Read through this book and you won't be at the same level you were before. "Learn 50% of the jouyou kanji"--OK, that's silly, unless you learn such on sight. But you will learn a fair amount through simple repetition. And you'll learn about the way things are phrased in Japanese literature, like to stop and think about whether something that seems simple but makes no sense might be figurative. It's really hard to break into, especially if you procrastinate. If you stay on top of it and read this book as part of your studies, it becomes much easier. At least, easy enough to finish, and imagine the thrill THAT will bring. ...it rocks. I know, cuz I'm feelin' it. (I confess to having thrown the book several feet onto the floor with a happy sigh.) There are other books in parallel text, but none of them as cleanly designed and readable as this. (Except the Snow Country one, which is a more complicated text but has improvements such as verb form explanations.) If you don't know what something means after working through it, you could keep trying to work it out, but I'd recommend just looking at the English when you're bewildered, and not bothering when you're sure you know what you're reading. Setting unnecessary boundaries will only slow most people down. Everything you need is right in front of you, so why read slower than you have to?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jianna

    This is a really helpful book for intermediate to advanced students of Japanese, particularly because of the vocabulary lists at the bottom, which especially comes in handy when reading authors like Natsume Soseki, who uses some older characters in his writing. Also, listing the The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary call numbers for every character used in the vocabulary list is incredibly useful. I wish that for some of the more obscure characters that are in the New Japanese-English Characte This is a really helpful book for intermediate to advanced students of Japanese, particularly because of the vocabulary lists at the bottom, which especially comes in handy when reading authors like Natsume Soseki, who uses some older characters in his writing. Also, listing the The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary call numbers for every character used in the vocabulary list is incredibly useful. I wish that for some of the more obscure characters that are in the New Japanese-English Character Dictionary, which is also edited by Jack Halpern and referenced for every character in The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary, also had references to the other dictionary. The selection of short stories and authors is wonderful.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    As the title of the book implies, this is a good way to start reading modern Japanese literature. Here, "modern" means post Meiji Restoration (1868). It consists of seven short stories: four by Natsume Shoseki (of "I am a Cat" and "Botchan" fame) and three by Akutagawa Ryunosuke. The stories become progressively harder to read through the book. I like the format of the book. Furigana is given above more challenging kanji. Word definitions are given on the lower half of the page and a full translat As the title of the book implies, this is a good way to start reading modern Japanese literature. Here, "modern" means post Meiji Restoration (1868). It consists of seven short stories: four by Natsume Shoseki (of "I am a Cat" and "Botchan" fame) and three by Akutagawa Ryunosuke. The stories become progressively harder to read through the book. I like the format of the book. Furigana is given above more challenging kanji. Word definitions are given on the lower half of the page and a full translation provided on the right-hand page. It makes it much easier to read the text as you don't have to waste time looking up dictionaries and you can easily check your understanding of what you've read. I found the stories quite difficult to read and would have struggled to read them without the help provided by this book. They often use slightly antiquated words and kanji. The stories themselves held my interest. Highly recommended for those with a resemble Japanese reading ability and an interest in Japanese literature.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Dimattia

    A bit too much for the average Japanese student, it nevertheless shows why you should hang in there and continue the struggle in learning how to read Japanese. Maybe the best Japanese short stories that for the exception of Rashamon the world has yet to acknowledge. In the end, the Japanese student will be glad he or she stuck with it. The kanji that is not common here actually are quite easy to understand, provided you have a great teacher like me. I was lucky to have had the greatest kanji tea A bit too much for the average Japanese student, it nevertheless shows why you should hang in there and continue the struggle in learning how to read Japanese. Maybe the best Japanese short stories that for the exception of Rashamon the world has yet to acknowledge. In the end, the Japanese student will be glad he or she stuck with it. The kanji that is not common here actually are quite easy to understand, provided you have a great teacher like me. I was lucky to have had the greatest kanji teacher in the world teach me for two years. He even asked me if I would consider taking his place. I now regret that I didn't, De Roo has now long since passed away . . .

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gabe

    A great resource for those studying Japanese, however I really feel it's too advanced for anyone who would actually need a dictionary and direct translation on the page. If you're advanced enough to read the majority of the kanji without the help of furigana, you're certainly not using readers such as this. I wish there had been more furigana use within the original Japanese text so those with a strong vocabulary could still enjoy the book without the tediousness of consulting the dictionary wit A great resource for those studying Japanese, however I really feel it's too advanced for anyone who would actually need a dictionary and direct translation on the page. If you're advanced enough to read the majority of the kanji without the help of furigana, you're certainly not using readers such as this. I wish there had been more furigana use within the original Japanese text so those with a strong vocabulary could still enjoy the book without the tediousness of consulting the dictionary with every new kanji. Kind of took the joy out of reading, and hardly seems practical for even intermediate speakers of the language.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeridel Banks

    I really enjoyed reading the short stories in this book. Each story has vocabulary words in Japanese and English, and the stories are translated in Japanese and English. I lent this book to one of my Japanese co-workers, and she told me that the Japanese text is a little difficult to understand because it uses old prose. The English text also uses old prose, but it's not as difficult to understand. If you're studying Japanese, you'll learn a lot of "new" old words, even in kanji (Chinese charact I really enjoyed reading the short stories in this book. Each story has vocabulary words in Japanese and English, and the stories are translated in Japanese and English. I lent this book to one of my Japanese co-workers, and she told me that the Japanese text is a little difficult to understand because it uses old prose. The English text also uses old prose, but it's not as difficult to understand. If you're studying Japanese, you'll learn a lot of "new" old words, even in kanji (Chinese characters). I'd recommend this book for people who want to learn some interesting Japanese stories.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Indra

    This is absolutely the best way of getting through japanese literature in the original language. I almost never read the english translation, the vocabulary listed under each page was enough to understand. The sense of accomplishment after FINALLY being able to read fiction in japanese without becoming frustrated is great! I shall not stop now. It's both a great way to practice the language and learn, and great stories, very carefully written. Being able to understand them in japanese really add This is absolutely the best way of getting through japanese literature in the original language. I almost never read the english translation, the vocabulary listed under each page was enough to understand. The sense of accomplishment after FINALLY being able to read fiction in japanese without becoming frustrated is great! I shall not stop now. It's both a great way to practice the language and learn, and great stories, very carefully written. Being able to understand them in japanese really adds to the experience. I highly recommend this book to intermediate-advanced japanese students.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mauri

    Read the first part in Japanese, then switched to English and finished in less than an hour. There was just too much ingrained misogyny in the author bios and the introduction to each story. The whole thing was just an endless reminder of taking English Lit courses and finding the whole reading list is dead white men, of my fifth grade teacher stating that no more classics will ever be written, of the pervasive belief that somebody needs to be miserable for literature to mean anything.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    This is a great tool. The characters and translation are at the bottom and each page is translated next to the original text. You can highlight to your hearts desire. It's easy to translate and the repetetive characters make it a great early reader. This is a great tool. The characters and translation are at the bottom and each page is translated next to the original text. You can highlight to your hearts desire. It's easy to translate and the repetetive characters make it a great early reader.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    A pain-free way for the Japanese learner to be able to read text in the original Japanese. Lots of furigana means you aren't going to be memorizing many new kanji, but a good, accessible selection of short stories from renowned authors. A pain-free way for the Japanese learner to be able to read text in the original Japanese. Lots of furigana means you aren't going to be memorizing many new kanji, but a good, accessible selection of short stories from renowned authors.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stone

    This book, its successor, and the two "Read Real Japanese" books are terrific for getting into written Japanese. It _is_ really hard, but gets easier with regular practice. This book, its successor, and the two "Read Real Japanese" books are terrific for getting into written Japanese. It _is_ really hard, but gets easier with regular practice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    OMG IT'S FINALLY FINISHED. I've been reading this thing on and off (mostly off) since 2013. This seems like a great idea, and for the right kind of student it probably is. For me, there were two main problems: 1) I am just not a fan of literary fiction and so had little drive to keep reading. I would read one page a day and then put it down again. I've made way better progress on my attempts to read manga or lighter fiction in "straight" Japanese, even when I was confused, because I was interested OMG IT'S FINALLY FINISHED. I've been reading this thing on and off (mostly off) since 2013. This seems like a great idea, and for the right kind of student it probably is. For me, there were two main problems: 1) I am just not a fan of literary fiction and so had little drive to keep reading. I would read one page a day and then put it down again. I've made way better progress on my attempts to read manga or lighter fiction in "straight" Japanese, even when I was confused, because I was interested in what would happen. 2) The glossary on each page seems like a big help, but in the end it was TOO much of a crutch. My lazy brain felt no motivation to actually try to REMEMBER any kanji, because they were always right there at the bottom of the page if I glanced down.

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