Godansho (The Oe Conversations) (江談抄)

"Godansho," written as 江談抄 in Japanese, is a collection of narratives from the Insei period (during the period of the government by the retired Emperor). It is also called 'Suigensho,' written as 水言抄 in Japanese, which is derived from the radicals of the two kanjis '江談,' i.e. the left-hand part of 江 and the left-hand part of 談, which respectively represent "水" (pronounced as "sui") and "言" (pronounced as "gen"). It is a record of informal talks covering a wide range of topics including Chinese classical literature and poetry, public affairs, music and so on.

They are based on notes taken by FUJIWARA no Sanekane, a shinshi (person who has passed the examination for entrance to the civil service) and a kurodo (chamberlain) (and the father of a kokui no saisho (Buddhist priest who has great political influence) named Shinzei), during talks with his teacher, the Sochi no Chunagon (vice-councilor of state and director of Dazaifu, local government office in Kyushu region) OE no Masafusa (1041 - 1111). This book is believed to have appeared between the Choji era and the Kasho era (between 1104 and 1108). Existing books are generally classified as the 'old book' type or as the 'similar book' type. The books of the old book type take on a conversational style and lack correlation between stories, while the books of the similar book type, which are thought to have included some additions and improvements during the Middle Ages, are divided into six sections which are based on themes.

Masafusa was an Imperial tutor and served three emperors: Emperor Gosanjo, Emperor Shirakawa, and Emperor Horikawa. He was a very talented person and was well-known for his mastery of poetry as well as Yusoku kojitsu (court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette). As if to reflect his erudition, "Godansho" covers an extremely wide range of topics. Most topics cover historical events of the Imperial ceremonies and public affairs or anecdotes on literature. Godansho includes many stories about the trend of the aristocracy as well, and such stories appears to have had great influence on later narrative literature.

Godansho is included in the Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei (New Japanese Classic Literature Systematic Edition, published by Iwanami Shoten Publishers).

[Original Japanese]