The Life of an Amorous Man

The Life of an Amorous Man

The Life of an Amorous Man

The Life of an Amorous Man

Synopsis

"The Life of an Amorous Man depicts the pursuits and follies of the most glorious age of old Japan, when the new bourgeoisie, unfettered by the societal constraints of the traditional aristocracy, indulged in the free and easy life of Japan's celebrated pleasure houses. The hero of this novel is a composite of the many daijin (men of wealth) who spent their time in these flourishing establishments. The novel follows the hero, Yonosuke, or "Man of the World," from precocious childhood to the close of his amatory career. Along the way, Saikaku exploits the full gamut of sexual indulgence, always with frankness, often with humor, and occasionally with pathos - chronicling the erotic escapades of his hero and providing vivid character sketches of the women (and sometimes men) with whom Yonosuke dallied." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

IHARA SAIKAKU (1641-93) was undoubtedly one of the most uninhibited writers that ever published a tale. Critics of the more sensitive school of belles-lettres have downgraded him as "vulgar" because of his unabashed preoccupation with life in the gay quarters. Others, concerned less with moralistic judgments than with technique and objectivity in the storytelling art, have acclaimed him as a great "realist" writer--largely, it would seem, because of his minute, true-to-life delineation of characters, customs, and events of his day.

Saikaku belonged to the classical school of novelists and poets. The term classical, as here applied, refers to that priceless bulk of indigenous literature, both prose and verse, that had accumulated since the dawn of articulate history until the introduction of Western literary forms in the 19th century, which brought about a complete change in outlook, technique, and style upon the native pattern.

What distinguishes Saikaku from the other two prose writers who share with him the pre-eminent niche in the "classical" firmament is the fact that whereas Lady Murasaki dealt with the ancient nobility (The Tale off Genji) and Kyokutei Bakin with feudal lords and the samurai caste (The Eight Retainers of Satomi), Saikaku was concerned solely with life among the common people.

In particular, Saikaku depicted in his writings the pursuits and follies of the most glamorous period in medieval Japan--the dawn of the Genroku era--when the hitherto oppressed commoners first enjoyed the fruits . . .

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