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Chushingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers

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"Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), " also known as the story of the Forty-Six (or Forty-Seven) Ronin, is the most famous and perennially ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Chushingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers

Overall customer rating: 5.000

Delightful interpretation of the 47 Ronin story

by vegasvikk on Jul 10, 2007

The Chushingura, The Treasury of Loyal Retainers, is a puppet play, or bunraku, dramatizing the events leading to the deaths of the infamous Forty-Seven Ronin, a tale that has captured the hearts and minds of the Japanese for centuries. In this 1748 rendition, three playwrights, Takeda Izumo, Namiki Senryu, and Miyoshi Shoraku, tell the tale of forty-seven samurai who lose their master when he is forced to commit ritual suicide because of a slight he delivered to a superior, Moronao. Hangan injures Moronao because he is provoked, and Moronao was certainly at fault, yet goes unpunished. The samurai embody the bushido code, and, although torn between giri, or duty, and ninjo, human feelings, they carry out the assassination of Moronao, knowing that they too will be forced to commit suicide for this transgression of the law. Their story is that of extreme loyalty and honor, and is extremely well told in this particular rendition, with Donald Keene?s sensitive and loving translation providing an avenue for English speakers to experience this entertainment event. I found this story to be tragic, compelling, and full of unique and dramatic twists and turns that the authors of the play have added to embellish the original Forty-Seven Ronin story. I could not help but admire the tenacity and resolve of the ronin, led by the clever and single minded Yuranosuke, who promised his master on Hangan?s deathbed that he would be avenged. I do not admire the act itself, and do not believe in revenge, but I understand how the dedication of these men propelled them into legend with their ultimate self-sacrifice. Ideally, one would watch this play as performed, but living in America, we must settle for playing it out in our imaginations. I would agree with other critics that this work ranks with Shakespeare?s tragedies in scope, character development, and raw emotional power. I would recommend that anyone who is fond of high drama read this work and this particular translation it will provide a few days of real enjoyment, and the story will linger in memory as a testament to that incredible historical act of 1701.

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