A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years by Shuichi Kato (auth.)

By Shuichi Kato (auth.)

Shuichi Kato's two-volume background of jap literature is amazing for its severe and comparative take hold of in addition to for its ancient scholarship. it's also a special contribution to the topic insofar because it contains the large unfold of kambun (classic chinese language) literature written by way of eastern authors. by means of relocating past the dialogue of literary varieties and magnificence into the social historical past which has formed the works, Professor Kato presents the 1st actual background of jap literature in its context; in truth, given the significance of literature in jap cultural historical past normally, Professor Kato's paintings may perhaps both be considered as a research of Japan's highbrow background via literature.

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Extra resources for A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years

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Naturally, there have been cases where popular literary forms have disappeared such as the 'envoy poems' of the Nara period, but even at that time such poems were probably not a representative form. The Chinese style poetry so widely practised among the intelligentsia of the Tokugawa period has also almost passed out of use, but this again is a rather special case since it was a poetic form based on a foreign language. The new being added to the old 'instead of supplanting it' is fundamental to understanding the INTRODUCTION 5 pattern of Japanese literary development; this tenet, in fact, does not apply solely to poetry.

Secondly, almost invariably the Japanese sentence begins with a phrase which modifies the noun and then ends with a verb; in other words it begins with the details and builds into the whole. This is in marked contrast to Chinese and Western languages and is in fact parallel with a part of Japanese architecture which was not subject to Chinese influences. In Japanese mythology time is conceived as something without beginning or end. This is a reflection of the general Japanese attitude towards history in which the whole continuous thread of INTRODUCTION 9 history is not broken down into parts and periods, but is made up of those parts and periods.

In the seventeenth century a new and influential poetic form- the haiku -appeared, and in the present century the lengthy free-verse forms enjoy widespread use. However, the waka has not ceased to be one of the principal forms of lyric poetry. Naturally, there have been cases where popular literary forms have disappeared such as the 'envoy poems' of the Nara period, but even at that time such poems were probably not a representative form. The Chinese style poetry so widely practised among the intelligentsia of the Tokugawa period has also almost passed out of use, but this again is a rather special case since it was a poetic form based on a foreign language.

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