Pilgrimages: Aspects of Japanese Literature and Culture

Pilgrimages: Aspects of Japanese Literature and Culture

Pilgrimages: Aspects of Japanese Literature and Culture

Pilgrimages: Aspects of Japanese Literature and Culture

Synopsis

For well over a thousand years Chinese and Japanese women created, commissioned, collected and used paintings, yet until recently this fact has scarcely been acknowledged in the study of East Asian art by Westerners.

Excerpt

When I was an undergraduate my favorite, and arguably my wisest, professor convinced me that the art of reading, and by extension the art of any active response to knowledge, lies in the area of making connections. Sensing the unseen ties and patterns that can connect individual works of art together, and so eventually link them to the reader or spectator, brings, he assured me, the core of that special and crucial pleasure that the arts contribute to our lives.

His remarks touched a strong chord of response in me. This collection of essays pays homage, if nothing more, to that youthful ideal. Certainly those of us who work in Japanese studies are faced with the buried existence of a number of artistic and cultural assumptions— about the nature of art, the purposes of verbal communication, and the place of literature in cultural life, among others—that make our understanding and interpretation of Japanese texts both an agreeably demanding and a sometimes problematic adventure. A variety of hidden assumptions lies not only behind the individual works we read, but in our own minds as well, for we bring our own unarticulated expectations, preconceptions, and prejudices about the nature and purposes of literature to our attempts to decipher the works with which we engage ourselves.

In the case of the Japanese tradition, a certain number of assumptions shared by Japanese writers and readers suggest sufficient congruences with our own modern Western ideas of literature that we risk being lulled into a complacent transposition into our own terms of material that is, in the most exciting sense of the word, alien. We run the risk of domestication when we might better be pushing ourselves to grasp what the works under study really represent and how they function.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.