Royall Tyler

Photo of Royall Tyler

Royall Tyler

Judges' Comments

Royall Tyler’s international reputation is based on his translations of Japan’s longest and most revered literary works, The Tale of Genji and Tales of the Heikei. Masterpieces from medieval times, they present enormous difficulties for translators, requiring fine judgment as to how and where explanations are appropriate and even necessary for non-Japanese readers. Tyler provides supporting material based on impeccable scholarship alongside a marvellously imaginative use of English.

For readers enchanted by the magical world of medieval Japan (as Tyler has been since his student days), he has also translated a range of shorter work dating from the 11th to the 14th centuries, along with remarkably atmospheric short fiction from the mid-twentieth century. Living in Australia since 1990, Tyler has also contributed to the understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture in Australia as a teacher, in professional activities, and in his vast and grateful readership.

Royall Tyler is the pre-eminent translator of medieval Japanese literature into any language. His achievements are celebrated in Japan and greeted as modern classics across the world. His notes, introductions and glossaries make fascinating reading in themselves, and are further enhanced with illustrations. Delivered through his mastery of English, his translations move with ease between formal and informal language, and incorporate prose and poetry to represent the complexity of traditional and modern Japanese literature. Accolades from an internationally renowned academic describe his translation of Genji as ‘the finest literary translation ever made from Japanese’, his translation of Heike as ‘magnificent’, and his reputation as ‘the finest translator of the most important Japanese literary texts’.