January 24, 2009

Chapter 8 (Dreaming of Paradise)


This chapter casts a keen eye on the problem of political idealism, particularly when Junkou observes:

The picture of the perfect kingdom my brother [the king] paints is a place where the common man--the ordinary fool--couldn't live. All the ministers will know right from wrong, will keep their passions in check, and work for the good of all mankind. The people will all obey the law, virtuously and humbly, and work diligently from sunup to sundown. Those who do not are not part of the equation. Where will they go? Exile them? Execute them? In order to keep wickedness and sloth at bay will they be watched and disciplined every minute of the day? At times like this, I can't help thinking that my idea of a utopia would be one that could tolerate no small amount of laziness and conniving and stupidity and inefficiency.

"East Palace" (東宮) is a literal translation. The word also means "Crown Prince" or "Palace of the Crown Prince." However, as explained in chapter 44 of A Thousand Leagues of Wind, in the Twelve Kingdoms, a person with the same surname as the prior king or empress cannot succeed to the throne. So in any case, this would be a purely ceremonial position.

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