Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader

Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader

Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader

Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader


"This anthology is intended to supplement courses in which Japanese aesthetics and culture are taught. The essays assume little background knowledge; they do represent seminal thought in literary, cultural, and aesthetic criticism, and are well known to scholars for their clarity and straightforward exposition, making them especially useful to the Westerner who does not speak Japanese. Some of the essays provide a general introduction to the basic theories of Japanese aesthetics, others deal with poetry and theater, and a third group discusses cultural phenomena directly related to classic Japanese literature. The text includes notes on historical periods and language, a glossary of the most significant literary and aesthetic vocabulary, and an extensive, annotated bibliography that guides the reader to primary materials, critical studies, general histories, anthologies, encyclopedias, and lists of films and audio-visual materials." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


In the foreword to Shuichi Kato's A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years, R. P. Dore reminds us that in this day of numerous translations of Japanese literature in English, it is hard to remember the "sense of wonder and discovery" with which English-speaking audiences first encountered Japanese literature. For the student new to Japanese literature that "sense of wonder and discovery" still exists. When the opportunity arose to teach an honors course in Japanese literature, my need to understand more about Japanese culture and the aesthetic principles that ruled its art and literature became more urgent.

A number of major works of Japanese literature have been translated into English and are now widely available.Donald Keene's Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century and his Modern Japanese Literature remain two of the best and most comprehensive introductory texts. However, because they have not been revised since their publication in 1956, they do not include the important work translated and published since then. This problem has been remedied somewhat by the recent publication ofHoward Hibbett's Contemporary Japanese Literature: An Anthology of Fiction, Film, and Other Writing since 1945, numerous collections of short stories and poetry, and good translations of contemporary novels.

Many critical works discussing this literature are also available in translation, but they are not always easily accessible. Although most public and academic libraries have a wide selection of books focusing on Japanese business and economics, and newspapers and magazines are full of articles on these subjects, Japanese literature has not been at the forefront of discussion in the literary or scholarly journals.

The need for more information on Japanese literature and culture was brought home during the summers of 1991 and 1992 when I attended the Asian Studies Development Program sponsored by the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii. Professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities from across the country gathered to learn more about Asia . . .

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