The Tale of the Heike (平家物語, Heike Monogatari?) is an epic account of the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War (1180-1185). Heike (平家) refers to the Taira (平) clan; "hei" being an alternate reading of the kanji (character) for Taira. In terms of the title of the Genpei War, "hei" can be alternatively read as "pei" again and the "gen" (源) is the same kanji used in the Minamoto (also known as Genji) clan's name.
It has been translated into English at least five times, the first by A.L. Sadler in 1918–1921. A complete translation in nearly 800 pages by Hiroshi Kitagawa & Bruce T. Tsuchida was published in 1975. Also translated by Helen McCullough in 1988. And an abridged translation by Burton Watson was published in 2006. In 2012 Royall Tyler completed his translation, which seeks to be mindful of the performance style for which the work was originally intended.
It was retold in Japanese prose by historical novelist Eiji Yoshikawa, published in Asahi Weekly in 1950 with the title New Tale of the Heike.
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... The Tale of the Heike is often compared to the Western epic tradition, such as the Iliad and the Odyssey written by Greek poet Homer ... Similar to the Iliad, the Tale of Heike deals with the themes of war and battle, exaggerating and glorifying historical events and people ...
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“The monument of death will outlast the memory of the dead. The Pyramids do not tell the tale which was confided to them; the living fact commemorates itself.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)