Let’s talk Heike Monogatari 談談平家物語吧

Let’s talk Heike Monogatari

談談平家物語吧

 

Or called Tales of the Heike. But I prefer to say Heike Monogatari, as the word monogatari provides an extra dimension that tales fails to fully capture.

英文又翻做Tales of the Heike(平家故事)。但我喜歡稱Heike Monogatari, monogatari相較tale含意上更多一層次。

 

To begin, I read the English translation by Helen McCullough, which is written in more plain narrative than the original sung performance. A Chinese translation will no doubt retain more of its original colour, someday I hope to come across one.

 

首先,我讀的是Helen McCullough的英文翻譯本,在撰寫上選擇比較白話的敘述,而非原本來詠讀的詞語。中文翻譯會更貼近原文的韻味,希望有天能讀看看。

 

The tale follows the rise and fall of the Taira clan (also called Heike, House of Hei, as Taira can be read as Hei), their ascent to power enough that eclipsed the throne, to their final destruction, the very last of their blood extinguished by their long time rival Genji clan (also called Minamoto).

 

故事描寫了平氏家族的興衰,他們勢力的擴展,到足以顛滅皇室,到最終毀滅,最後的血族被對手源氏誅殺殆盡。

 

The book consists of 3 phases. The gradual build up to the death of Kiyomori and of open warfare, the back and forth till the last battle at Dan-no-ura, and the last third where the remaining Heike meets their end. Within each are several chapters, each a collection of passages of various lengths, ranging from half a page to 5-6 pages. Some tightly follows, others loosely related, and some travels back in time to provide context to events or characters.

 

整本書可分三大段。慢慢鋪陳到平 清盛之死,戰火燃起。雙方來回爭戰到最終的壇ノ浦之戰。最後一段為剩下的平氏成員最終的下場。每段有許多章,內另細分許多小節,有的只有半頁到有的五,六頁。有的間故事直接延續,有的有所相連,有的則回朔到過去,解釋當下事情或人物的緣由。

 

It’s an epic tale that not only depicts some of Japan’s most iconic historic characters and events, but more significantly for me, it illuminates the culture of the time when the tales are performed.

 

這是宏大的故事,書中描繪的不只是日本數個最有名的人物和事件,對我而言更具有意義的是它所呈現出催化出這作品的時代的文化。

 

I started the book expecting it to be similar to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms which I am well familiar with. Gradually I came to the opinion that perhaps the Water Margin is the more apt comparison, with a wider cast of characters, the focus on martial prowess. But even that is drawing a loose line, there is nothing in Water Margin akin to the expertly crafted short passages which while not adhering to one tight narrative nor structure, yet at same time harmoniously fits together thematically. Heike Monogatari is very much its own style, comparisons cannot be drawn easily.

 

一開始我預期的是跟熟悉的三國演義類似的一本書。慢慢的我覺得水滸傳或許比較接近。比較廣泛的角色,注重打鬥上的描述,但這也只是牽強的比較,水滸中沒有如此巧妙雕琢的段落。缺乏一貫的敘述或組織,卻又能互相呼應,融入故事主題。平家物語自成一家,很難跟其他著作比較。

 

What really struck me was not so much the tales and characters, but how much references to Chinese there are. The courtier would cite Confucian ideals, the three sovereigns and five emperors, and of the Emperors of Tang as precedent. Or draw analogies to Liu Ban and Xiang Yu, of Wang Man of Han, of the rebellion of An Lushan. There was even included an entire passage of the story of Jing Ke’s failed assassination of Shihuangdi of Qin.

 

真讓我意外的並不是故事或角色,而是其中提及中國的次數。朝臣們會引用儒家思想,借三皇五帝,唐朝皇帝為前例。或比喻,劉邦與項羽,竄漢的王莽,還有安祿山之亂。甚至有一整段是敘述荊軻刺秦的故事。

 

I had always known Heian period was strongly influenced by Chinese culture, but never thought it to be to this degree. The book would have been an incredibly hard read for foreigners, not only having to face unfamiliar Japanese names and locations, but also characters and events of a place different than the one currently being read about. Infact, I wonder how much of the Chinese references will be understood by Japanese.

 

雖然在這之前就知道平安時代的日本受中國文化影響甚大,但從未想到是如此深遠。這書對外國人肯定相當艱澀,不但要面對不熟悉的日本名和地點,還要了解與正在讀的完全不同的人事物。老實說,我很好奇當中提到的這些中國古人事物,有多少現在日本人懂得。

 

Given the incredible amount of Chinese references, it is surprising, and also unsurprisingly, that there aren’t any to the Three Kingdoms period. Probably the best known Chinese period in modern times thanks to the popularity of the aforementioned Romance of the Three Kingdoms in related media if not, sadly, the original book.

 

既然含有這麼多中國的成分,另外讓人意外,或許也不是太意外,並沒有提到三國時代。三國大概是現代人最熟悉的中國時代,感謝於三國演義的人氣,至少在各種改編作品上,即便原作未必享受相同待遇。

 

It makes sense of course, when one consider that Romance of the Three Kingdoms was not written until the Yuan-Ming period ~1300. And Heiki Monogatari had taken shape in some form in the Kamakura period, also around ~1300, likely predating the books. Without the Romance it was likely that the period did not hold enough influence to be considered iconic events to be referenced.

 

這是可理解的,三國演義誕生於元明,而平家物語在鎌倉年代已有雛形,差不多同一時代,甚至比三國更早一點。沒有三國演義的宣染,三國時代可能還沒出名到可當先例引用。

 

The book is interesting in that there are no protagonists to speak of. The Romance had the three brothers, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, after their fall the lead was taken up by Zhuge Liang, then his protege Jiang Wei. And the Water Margin strictly followed the core heroes of the 108.

 

這書有意思之處在沒有主角可言。三國有劉備,關羽,張飛三兄弟,後有孔明和他的接班人姜維。水滸有一百零八好漢中宋江為首的幾個核心頭領。

 

While Heike also passes focus from Kiyomori to Koremori, Yoshinaka and Yoshitsune, the narrative does not treat them as favourites. It does not paint the Taira nor the Genji as being in the right (as Romance does for Shu), nor wholly wrong. Even the imperial house under Go-Shirakawa could hardly be considered pillars of righteous virtues. The story is about them, but also not about them. It is this air of impartiality that differentiates it from the other novels.

 

而平家物語雖然焦點從平清盛移至平維盛,源義仲與源義経,敘述上並未偏愛任一方。平家和原家皆非善者(不同於三國演義中讀愛的蜀國),也非絕惡。就算是後白川太上天皇底下的皇室也非善德榜樣。故事講的是他們,但並不是他們的故事。這絕妙的旁觀視點是他與眾不同之處。

 

As the monogatari begins in its very first sentence. The sound of the Gion bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

 

如物語開卷第一句。祇園精舍的鐘聲,有諸行無常的聲響。沙羅雙樹的花色,顯盛者必衰的道理。驕奢者不久長,只如春夜的一夢,強梁者終敗亡,恰似風前的塵土。

 

The story can best be characterized by a fatalism of fate and fleeting nature of things. An almost tranquil, matter of fact stating. Rather than brought to cheer for or dislike any particular characters, one is led to pity and worry, for in defeat speckle of honour and bravery shines, and even in triumph an air of sorrow permeates.

 

故事染著宿命和歲月流年的消逝。平淡的敘述。並不刻意激起讀者對任何角色的支持或反感,帶來的只有惋惜和憂愁,慘敗裡閃著英勇的花火,勝利中瀰漫著哀傷。

 

Kiyomori, the tyrant of late Heian court. The narrative paints a dark image of the man, as a man full of anger and bereft of humble sense. His wanton acts led to the death of his son and hope of the people Shigemori. Without Shigemori’s restraint on his father, Kiyomori’s full fury is laid bare. His last dying words, instead of some longing for his family or retrospection of life, were ones wishing for death upon his adversaries.

 

平清盛,平安晚期的朝廷暴君。敘述中描繪的是一個凶殘的人,滿是憤怒,毫無謙卑。他的貪婪導致他兒子,也是人民寄託的希望,平重盛之死。少了平重盛對他父親的牽制,平清盛的狂爆展露無遺。他死前的遺言不是對家庭的緬懷,或是對一生的省思,而是盼望將對手處死。

 

The weight of his sins were carried by his sons. While they, too, were party to the Taira’s indulgences and cruel acts, towards the end I was moved to feel for their suffering. Fathers, husbands, sons, brothers. Poets, musicians, scholars. People of qualities, courageous, skilled, masterful. Who amongst us is not human. Frail people caught up in the fortunes given.

 

他的罪孽回報在兒孫身上。雖然他們同樣參與了平氏的各種貪欲和暴行,接近尾聲時我不禁為他們受到的苦難感到不捨。父親,丈夫,兄弟。詩人,樂師,學者。皆是擁有特質的非凡之人,英勇,精明能幹,老練。人非聖賢。脆弱的人們在一時的好運中迷失了。

 

And what of Yoshinaka? The Genji that first defeated and drove the Taira out of the capital? A masterful tactician whose sin was being an uncouth man from the countryside. The man fought to the end and died bravely with his brother Imai who killed himself by leaping off his horse with holding the sword in his mouth.

 

源義仲呢?源氏中第一個擊敗平家並將其趕出京都之人。一身之謀略敗在出身山野不習禮儀。他與義兄今井兼平並肩奮戰到底,最後今井咬著劍尖從馬上躍下自裁而死。

 

Or Yoshitsune? A small man who destroyed the Taira and brought order to the country, then driven to rebellion by his suspicious brother.

 

或是源義経?一個身材矮小卻殲滅平家的將軍,給國家重新帶來和平,卻遭兄長猜忌最後走上反叛一路。

 

So many deserved death yet lived, so many deserved life yet died. Some are rewarded by their compassion, others died by the very those they spared. Some found peace before their ends in the buddha, others laughing as they went in storms of glory.

The world’s nature is one of fleeting beauty, life is but an illusive dream. The flowers of spring after a night’s rain carpets the earth. The red of autumn after a gust welts and scatters amidst the mountains and rivers. Such is the essence of Heike Monogatari.

 

多少應死卻過得好好的,又有多少該活下的卻走了。有人因仁行而得善報,他人刀下留情卻反死其人之手。有人在路途盡頭遇佛得安,他人風暴中的吋燭光芒萬丈狂笑倒下。

 

世間無常,人生渺無虛幻。春天的花朵,一夜雨睡落滿地。秋天的紅葉,一陣風枯散河山。乃平家物語的精隨。