Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from the Chronicles of Japan to the Tale of the Heike

Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from the Chronicles of Japan to the Tale of the Heike

Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from the Chronicles of Japan to the Tale of the Heike

Eccentric Spaces, Hidden Histories: Narrative, Ritual, and Royal Authority from the Chronicles of Japan to the Tale of the Heike

Excerpt

The present study is the result of a long engagement with the Heike textual corpus and the medieval world in which it took shape, roughly the thirteenth through the fourteenth centuries. Of its eight chapters, somewhat less than half, or most of the final three chapters, deal at length and in detail with Heike material and its medieval world. But it is also Heike and the problems that came to light in reading through several of its variants that have shaped the organization and concerns of the other five chapters, which include the three chapters of Part One on yin-yang and Daoist ideas in the Nara and early Heian periods and the two chapters of Part Two on various aspects of ritual, space, and narrative from Kojiki (712) to the late Heian historical narrative Ōkagami. If the time frame and selection of topics strike the reader as unorthodox, that is because they are aimed at reversing several canonical views of Heike that first took shape in the course of the twentieth century. Although Japanese scholarship on Heike since the late 1970s has moved well beyond these earlier canonical readings, the presentation of Heike as a major work of classical Japanese literature continues to be influenced by these earlier readings. This is especially the case in English, where there continues to be an absence of book-length studies on Heike comparable to those that we now have for other major works and genres of the classical period. The present study therefore aims not only to open up the discussion of Heike and its medieval world in Part Three but to locate it within a broader trajectory that reaches back through the Heian to Nara periods.

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