Asian literature

Please read the introduction carefully. Since we are only reading a very brief selection from a very long work, the introduction will help you fill in the gaps and give you the context to understand this work.  This is the foundation text of Japanese Samurai culture and imagination.  By 14th century, Japanese cultures and literatures had been deeply influenced by Buddhism.
1.  You know from the introduction that this work records the war between two clans: the Heike (also known as the Taira) and the Genji (also known as the Minamoto).  The Genjis won, but why do you think the tale is called the Tale of Heike?  Why do you think there is more interest in the defeated than the victor?  This is, by the way, a really important aspect of Japanese culture–the aesthetic of the “fallen hero”.  A clue–read the opening paragraph on p. 1289 that begins with “The bells of the Gion monastery….” and analyze the meaning of this passage.
2.  The Death of Kiyomori (P. 1290-93):  What does Kiyomori stand for?  What do you think his death means?  Focus on especially the last paragraph of this selection.
3.  Focus on the discriptions of the Heike (Taira) samurais.  Can you mention a few things that characterize the Samurai ethics and values?  For example, look at the descritpion on pg. 1292.
4. Probably the most famous and celebrated episode in the Tale of Heike is the “Death of Atsumori” (Pg. 1301-1303).  What in this episode strike you as special?  What of the Samurai ethics does it illustrate?  Aside from being a great fighter, what other characters should a samurai of have?
5.  Taken as a whole, the Tale of Heike is a tale of war and warriors.  However reading the individual episodes, what do you think are the main themes of the tale?

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