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Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text
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Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text (Japanese Literature)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  246 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
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
Paperback, Large Print, 239 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Kodansha International (first published March 5th 2003)
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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
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone studying Japanese
Recommended to Alia by: my mother, then used it in Japanese class
Shelves: japanese
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 ...more
Stan Murai
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
anna mae
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
these are depressing(but beautiful)

this book is very conveniently laid out and i wish a million others like it existed!
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
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
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kyle Bunkers
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-japanese
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
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nihongo
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
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Thomas Dimattia
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jeridel Banks
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction
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.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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