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Japannese letterkunde - Geskiedenis

Japannese letterkunde - Geskiedenis



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Die grootste skrywer van Japan word deur baie beskou as Saikaku. Sy grootste roman word beskou as Women Who Loved Love. Dit vertel die verhaal van handelaarsklasvroue wat liefde soek, en breek dus met die etiek van vroulike trou aan haar man. Gedurende hierdie tydperk het die Kabuki -teater tot stand gekom. Dit beklemtoon geweld, musiek en dramas. Die regeringsorkes het deelgeneem aan die toneelstukke en kort daarna het manlike akteurs vroue begin speel.

'N Geskiedenis van die Japannese letterkunde


Die Japannese beskik oor 'n omvangryke literatuur wat oor twaalf eeue strek, wat tot vandag toe baie onvolmaak deur Europese studente ondersoek is. Veertig jaar gelede het geen Engelsman 'n bladsy van 'n Japannese boek gelees nie, en hoewel sommige kontinentale geleerdes 'n nuttige kennis van die taal gehad het, is hul bydraes tot ons kennis onbelangrik. In die tussenpose, deur skrywers van grammatika en woordeboeke, is baie gedoen om die aanleer van hierdie moeilikste taal te vergemaklik, en vertalings deur sir E. Satow, mnre. Mitford, Chamberlain, Dickins en ander, het ons interessante blikke gegee sekere fases van die literatuur. Maar die breër veld het tot dusver onaangeraak gebly. Behalwe 'n paar kort losstaande kennisgewings, is daar geen kritieke mening oor Japannese boeke in enige Europese taal nie, en alhoewel die Japannese self meer in hierdie rigting gedoen het, is hul werk in groot mate onbruikbaar.

Die historikus van hulle literatuur word dus hoofsaaklik op sy eie hulpbronne gegooi, en moet sy bes doen deur 'n direkte ondersoek van die werke wat die uitspraak van die nageslag as die opmerklikste gemerk het, te bepaal om hul karakter en plek in die letterkunde te bepaal, en om sover moontlik die idees wat hulle geïnspireer het, te begryp. Op die volgende bladsye is relatief min ruimte bestee aan wat noodwendig 'n rekord is van persoonlike indrukke en opinies, die uitkoms van rowwe pionierswerk en die feit dat daar min aanspraak op dit as volwasse literêre kritiek beskou word. Dit het verkieslik gelyk, veral in die geval van 'n literatuur wat so min aan die Engelse publiek bekend was as dié van Japan, om genoeg ruimte te gee vir vertaalde uittreksels en vir biografiese kennisgewings wat nodig is om aan te toon watter manskappe die skrywers was.

Die algemene plan van hierdie reeks is egter nie uit die oog verloor nie. Belangrike skrywers is betreklik groter behandel, met die verwaarlosing van baie minder bekende kenmerke, en daar is gepoog om, in soverre die stand van ons kennis dit toelaat, die beweging van die literatuur te volg en die oorsake op te spoor het sy karakter op spesifieke tydperke bepaal.

Skrywers oor Europese letterkundiges het die reg om van hul kant van die lesers van vooraf kennis te neem met die belangrikste feite van die politieke en godsdienstige geskiedenis van die land waarmee hulle te doen het. In die geval van Japan is dit egter as onnodig beskou om 'n paar gegewens van hierdie aard by te voeg, sonder 'n kennis waarvan dit onmoontlik is om die verloop van die literêre ontwikkeling te begryp.

Ter wille van die Japannese letterkunde is dit reg om aandag te vestig op 'n paar hindernisse wat verhinder dat vertalings 'n voldoende idee van die verdienste daarvan kan gee. Die Italiaanse gesegde is veral van toepassing op vertalers uit die Japannese. Selfs as hulle 'n bekwame kennis van die taal het, kan hulle onmoontlik al die metafore, toespelings, aanhalings en illustrasies weergee wat die voorraad van die Japannese skrywer vorm, en wat grootliks onbegryplik is sonder 'n oorvloed van verduidelikende aantekeninge wat vir die leser ondraaglik is .

'N Ander moeilikheid spruit voort uit die feit dat 'n Japannese woord gereeld 'n betekenis dek wat byna dieselfde is as die van die ooreenstemmende Engelse term, of heel ander assosiasies oproep. Die karasuis byvoorbeeld nie juis 'n kraai nie, maar 'n corvus Japonensis, 'n groter voël as ons spesie, met verskillende krete en gewoontes. Die kersie is in Japan die koningin van blomme en word nie waardeer vir sy vrugte nie, terwyl die roos as 'n netelige doringbos beskou word. Valeriaan, wat vir ons veral van katte dui, neem die plek van die roosknop in as die erkende metafoor vir die vroeë bloei van vrouwees. En wat moet die vertaler doen met die name van blomme wat die Japannese so goed ken as daisy of narcis vir onsself, maar waarvoor hy geen beter ekwivalente kan bied as sulke lomp uitvindings soos Lespedeza, Platycodon grandiflorum, en Deutzia scabra?

In die denk- en sentimentele wêreld is die verskille, alhoewel dit minder tasbaar is, nog belangriker. Neem die Japannese woord vir gewete, naamlik honshin. Dit beteken 'oorspronklike hart' en impliseer 'n teorie dat die mens se hart oorspronklik goed is, en dat die gewete die stem is wat in hom spreek. Die woorde vir geregtigheid, deug, kuisheid, eer, liefde en nog vele meer idees van hierdie klas, hoewel dit in wese dieselfde is as met onsself, moet nog met verskille opgeneem word wat noodwendig verlore gaan in 'n vertaling.

As daarby die gewone probleme bygevoeg word wat die taak inhou om denke van die een taal na die ander oor te dra, en wat onvergelyklik groter is in die geval van 'n idioom wat so anders is as ons deur vertaling na die Japannese letterkunde. In die huidige bundel was dit dikwels nodig om die beste en mees kenmerkende gedeeltes van 'n skrywer oor te slaan ten gunste van ander wat hulself makliker in Engelse vorm aangebied het.

Met een of twee uitgesonderde uitsonderings is die vertalings my eie.

My beste dank is aan sir Ernest Satow, minister van haar majesteit in Japan, dat hy my die grootste deel van sy uitgebreide biblioteek met Japannese boeke geleen het, en ook dat hy my van tyd tot tyd voorsien het van onlangse inheemse publikasies, wat my tot groot nut was. .

Ek assosieer my hartlik met vorige bydraers tot hierdie reeks geskiedenisse deur die voordeel te erken wat die huidige bundel uit die redaksionele sorg van mnr. Edmund Gosse verkry het.

Japannese woorde en eiename is so spaarsamig moontlik bekendgestel. Die spellingstelsel is die van die Royal Geographical Society. Dit kan kortliks beskryf word as "Konsonante soos in Engels, vokale soos in Italiaans geen stille letters nie."


Jesuïete gebring Christendom aan Japan in 1549, maar dit was verbied in 1614. Wanneer Japan ’s verbod op Christendom is in 1873 opgehef, sommige Hidden Christene by die Katolieke Kerk aangesluit het, het ander gekies om die ware geloof van hul voorouers te handhaaf.

Die maklikste plek om begin is saam met Haruki Murakami, die gewildste Japannees skrywer wêreldwyd. Murakami se boeke dek 'n wye verskeidenheid onderwerpe en temas, terwyl dit steeds gevul is met konsekwente elemente in boeke.


Japannese letterkunde - Geskiedenis

Die begrip van die Japannese kultuur het die Westerse wêreld gefassineer sedert die handelsdeure van die land in die 1800's oopgemaak is. Die eet van rou vis was 'n idee wat een keer 'n sekere grimas gekry het, maar sushi word nou wêreldwyd geniet. Daar is weereens kimono-geklede meisies wat in die strate van Kyoto riksja's ry, maar nou is dit deel van 'n toeriste-aantreklikheid. Daar kan nie ontken word dat Japan ontwykend gebly het nie, en dat mense uit alle uithoeke van die wêreld gereis het om self te sien hoe uniek hierdie eiland is. 'N Ander manier om na hierdie raaiselagtige kultuur te kyk, van alledaags tot sensasioneel, is deur middel van literatuur.

In die algemeen is Japannese skrywers geneig om te skryf oor hul onderliggende aanvaarding van lewe. Dit is 'n sterk kontras met die klem van die Westerse kultuur op 'hoop' of verwagtinge vir 'n beter toekoms. Die Japanse klem val eerder op die hede. Op die eerste oogopslag kan Japannese letterkunde grimmig of passief nihilisties lyk. Maar as ons dieper kyk, sien ons die skoonheid van 'n kortstondige oomblik. Hierdie eenvoudige zen-agtige logika oor die verbygaande aard van alle dinge deurdring alle geslagte en fasette van die Japannese kultuur.

Alhoewel die Japannese kultuur as verfynde minimalisme gekonseptualiseer kan word, is die taal daarenteen kompleksiteit self. Geskrewe Japannees het nie een nie, maar drie stelle karakters. Kanji, afgelei van Chinees, en wat bekend staan ​​as die Japannese alfabet - hiragana en katakana.

Daarby maak die formele versus informele toon van die taal die narratiewe stem te streng of te gemaklik. Deur tekste van Japannees in Engels te vertaal, word al hierdie probleme verbasend vermy. En hoewel die essensie van romans in Japannees soms moeilik is om te begryp, vul Engels die leemtes wat verlore geraak het in kulturele subtiliteit (en laat ons eerlik wees, kanji). Selfs in vertaling is daar 'n vloei van woorde wat uniek is aan die Japannese skrywer. Dit lyk vreemd dat Engels die raaisel van die Japannese sentiment sou ontsluit, maar hierdie raaisel is presies so Japannees. Die aanbevole boeke is almal in Engels beskikbaar - baie vertaal deur Japan -entoesiaste, wat ons begrip lei met bykomende definisies en nuttige voetnote.


A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years

Ek is gefassineer deur die Japannese letterkunde, en ek het gedink dit sal wonderlik wees om hierdie boek te lees wat handel oor die geskiedenis van die Japannese letterkunde. Maar hier is die ding: al wat ek kon sien, was die woorde: A History of Japanese Literature. Hulle het nie die ondertitel gekry nie, The First Thousand Years, en die meeste van my gunsteling Japannese boeke/skrywers kom uit 'n BAIE later tyd. U kan u dus die deflasie in my opgewondenheid voorstel toe ek sien dat ek nie sou lees oor die tydperk wat ek 2.5 wou hê nie

Ek is gefassineer deur die Japannese letterkunde, en ek het gedink dit sal wonderlik wees om hierdie boek te lees wat handel oor die geskiedenis van die Japannese letterkunde. Hier is die ding: Al my oog was die woorde: A History of Japanese Literature. Hulle het nie die ondertitel gekry nie, The First Thousand Years, en die meeste van my gunsteling Japannese boeke/skrywers kom uit 'n BAIE later tyd. U kan u dus die deflasie in my opgewondenheid voorstel toe ek sien dat ek nie sou lees oor die tydperk wat ek wou hê nie.

Die boek was nietemin insiggewend en het gehelp om die oorsprong van baie soortgelyke/herhaalde temas in die Japannese letterkunde te verduidelik. Waarom dinge gesien word soos dit is of hoe dit ontstaan ​​het. Ek het baie interessante feite geleer, soos hoe vroeë Japannese letterkunde en poësie eintlik baie bevat oor romanse en liefde. En dit was 'n liefde tussen 'n man en 'n vrou. Soms was dit die emosie en soms die fisiese daad. Dit is eintlik 'n sterk kontras met die manier waarop liefde en romanse in latere Japannese literatuur getoon word. Dit was skokkend om die verandering te sien.

Oor die algemeen was my gunsteling hoofstukke 1, 2 en 5. Ek dink ek sal die latere volumes van hierdie reeks geniet. Die skryfstyl was goed. Nie baie poëties/tekenend nie, maar ook nie staties nie. . meer

Om hierdie boek bloot 'n geskiedenis van Japannese letterkunde te noem, is 'n understatement. Dit bevat politieke geskiedenis wat die tydsdele waarop dit fokus op letterkunde verbind, en dit interpreteer literatuur breedweg: poësie, fiksie, godsdiens en geskiedenis.

Ek het dit uit 'n winskopie opgetel, maar ek het nie geweet hoe nuttig dit kan wees nie, in die hoop om 'n paar ontbrekende items by my & quotto read & quot lys te voeg. Dit het daarin geslaag, want ek het nog twintig titels gevind wat ek nog nie gelees het nie en kon uit sy beskrywing vasstel om hierdie boek bloot 'n geskiedenis van Japannese letterkunde te noem, is 'n understatement. Dit bevat politieke geskiedenis wat die tydsdele waarop dit fokus op letterkunde verbind, en dit interpreteer literatuur breedweg: poësie, fiksie, godsdiens en geskiedenis.

Ek het dit uit 'n winskopie opgetel, maar ek het nie geweet hoe nuttig dit kan wees nie, in die hoop dat ek 'n paar ontbrekende items by my "lees" -lys sou voeg. Daarin het dit geslaag, want ek het nog twintig titels gevind wat ek nie gelees het nie en uit sy beskrywings kon ek tien historiese tekste bepaal wat ek wil lees. As almal nou maar in Engels beskikbaar was.

Hierdie geskiedenis is in Japannees vir 'n Japannese gehoor geskryf en in Engels vertaal. Dus is nie alles wat gelys is in Engels beskikbaar nie, en sommige van die groter werke is vir redaksie in Engels geredigeer. En dit is nie net 'n kwessie van Japannese studeer op universiteit nie, want Japannese het so baie verander deur die eeue (veral aan die einde van die negentiende eeu) dat dit spesialisstudie verg om dit in die oorspronklike te lees.

Ek was besig om die politieke geskiedenis in hierdie geskiedenis te bekyk omdat ek dit al elders geleer het. Ek dink Engelse lesers van hierdie werk sou waarskynlik in twee groepe verdeel word: diegene wat genoeg Japannese politieke geskiedenis geken het om hierdie dele oor te slaan, en diegene wat niks geken het nie en hopeloos verlore sou gaan as hy sy opsommings lees. As u sien dat u oë daar verblind, gaan dan verder na die literatuur of raadpleeg 'n algemene Japannese geskiedenis. Ek glo nie dat die lees van die politieke geskiedenis nodig is om hierdie boek te geniet en te leer nie.
. meer


Inhoud

Sedert die middel van die 19de eeu was die belangrikste vorme van Japannese poësie tanka (die moderne naam vir waka), haikoe en shi of poësie in westerse styl. Vandag bevat die belangrikste vorme van Japannese poësie sowel eksperimentele poësie as poësie wat tradisionele maniere probeer herleef. Digters wat in tanka, haiku en shi skryf, skryf selde gedigte anders as in hul spesifieke gekose vorm, hoewel sommige aktiewe digters gretig is om met digters in ander genres saam te werk. Die geskiedenis van die Japannese poësie behels sowel die evolusie van Japannees as taal, die evolusie van Japannese digvorme en die versameling van poësie in bloemlesings, baie deur keiserlike beskerming en ander deur die "skole" of die dissipels van beroemde digters (of godsdiens) , in die geval van die Bussokusekika). Die studie van Japannese poësie word bemoeilik deur die sosiale konteks waarbinne dit plaasgevind het, deels vanweë grootskaalse politieke en godsdienstige faktore soos clanpolitiek of Boeddhisme, maar ook omdat die samewerkingsaspek wat Japannese poësie dikwels kenmerk het. 'N Groot deel van die Japannese poësie bevat ook kort versvorme, dikwels gesamentlik, wat dan in langer versamelings saamgestel word, of andersins in die prosa van langer werke afgewissel word. Ouer vorme van Japannese poësie sluit in kanshi, wat 'n sterk invloed uit die Chinese letterkunde en kultuur toon.

Kanshi Redigeer

Kanshi beteken letterlik 'Han -poësie', en dit is die Japannese term vir Chinese poësie in die algemeen, sowel as die poësie wat in Chinese deur Japannese digters geskryf is. Kanshi vanaf die vroeë Heian tydperk bestaan ​​in die Kaifūsō bloemlesing, saamgestel in 751.

Waka Redigeer

Waka is 'n tipe poësie in die klassieke Japannese letterkunde. Waka is in Japannees gekomponeer en word gekontrasteer met poësie wat deur Japannese digters in klassieke Chinees, bekend as kanshi. Dus, waka het die algemene betekenis van "poësie in Japannees", in teenstelling met die kanshi 'poësie in Chinees' waka word soms ook gebruik in die meer spesifieke en beperkende poësie wat in Japannees is en wat ook in die tanka vorm. Die Man'yōshū bloemlesing bewaar uit die agtste eeu 265 chōka (lang gedigte), 4,207 tanka (kort gedigte), een tan-renga (kort verbindingsgedig), een bussokusekika ('n gedig in die vorm 5–7–5–7–7–7 vernoem na die gedigte wat op die Boeddha se voetspore by Yakushi-ji in Nara opgeskryf is), vier kanshi (Chinese gedigte) en 22 Chinese prosagedeeltes. Teen die tyd van die tiende eeu Kokinshū bloemlesing, waka het die standaardterm geword wat gebruik word vir kort gedigte van die tanka vorm, tot meer onlangse tye.

Tanka Redigeer

Tanka is gedigte in Japannees geskryf met vyf reëls met 'n 5–7–5–7–7 meter. Die tanka vorm toon 'n mate van moderne herlewing in gewildheid. Soos voorheen genoem, het dit vroeër waka genoem.

Samewerkende vers Redigeer

Baie tradisionele Japannese poësie is geskryf as gevolg van 'n proses van twee of meer digters wat verse tot 'n groter stuk bydra, soos in die geval van die renga vorm. Gewoonlik bestaan ​​die 'geëerde gas' uit 'n paar beginreëls, dikwels in die vorm van hokku (wat as 'n losstaande stuk uiteindelik tot die haikoe ontwikkel het). Hierdie aanvanklike sally is gevolg deur 'n strofe wat deur die 'gasheer' saamgestel is. Hierdie proses kan voortgaan, soms met baie strofe wat deur talle ander "gaste" saamgestel is, tot die finale gevolgtrekking. Ander gesamentlike vorme van Japannese poësie het ook ontwikkel, soos die renku ("gekoppelde vers") vorm. In ander gevalle was die poësie -samewerking meer mededingend, soos met uta-awase byeenkomste waarin digters uit die Heian -periode saamgestel het waka gedigte oor vaste temas, met 'n beoordelaar wat die wenner (s) bepaal.

Haiku wysig

Haiku is 'n kort versgenre wat in een reël in Japannees geskryf is en gewoonlik drie reëls in Engels en ander tale. Dit het aansienlike wêreldwye gewildheid behaal, nadat dit van Japannees in baie ander tale aangepas is. Kenmerkend van die Japannese haikoe is die metriese patroon van 5, 7 en 5 op (ook bekend as morae). Ander kenmerke sluit in die kombinasie van twee beelde of idees met 'n kireji ('snywoord') tussen hulle, en a kigo, of seisoenale verwysing, gewoonlik afkomstig van a saijiki, of tradisionele lys van sulke woorde. Baie haikoe is objektief in hul uitbeelding van persoonlike ervarings.

Baie van die Japannese poësie is histories oorgedra deur gepubliseerde versamelbundels, baie van hulle met keiserlike beskerming. Belangrike versamelings is die Man'yōshū, Kokin Wakashū, Shin Kokin Wakashū, en die Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

Die geskiedenis van die Japannese poësie is gekoppel aan die geskiedenis van die Japannese letterkunde, dit wil sê in die suiwer historiese sin dat dit bestaan ​​uit geskrewe rekords. Die vroeë voorgeskiedenis en mitologie van Japan behels of bevat enkele verwysings na poësie. En die vroegste bewaarde werke in die Japannese taal behou ook 'n paar vorige poësie uit hierdie vroeëre tydperk.

Mitologie Redigeer

Volgens die Japanse mitologie het poësie begin, nie by mense nie, maar met die hemelse gode, die godin Izanami en die god Izanagi. Daar word gesê dat hulle deur die wêreldpilaar geloop het en mekaar teëgekom het. Die godin het eers gepraat en die volgende vers gesê:

Watter vreugde is dit nie te vergelyk nie Om 'n man so regverdig te sien!

Die manlike god, kwaad omdat die wyfie eers gepraat het, het vir haar gesê om weg te gaan en later terug te keer. Toe hulle mekaar weer ontmoet, het die manlike god eers gepraat en die volgende vers gesê:

Om 'n vrou so regverdig te sien - Wat 'n vreugde wat nie vergelyk kan word nie! [1]

Chinese invloed Edit

Chinese literatuur is in die 6de eeu nC in Japan bekendgestel, meestal deur die Koreaanse skiereiland. Net soos die Chinese skrywe self, het Chinese letterkunde, historiese geskrifte, godsdienstige geskrifte en poësie die grondslag gelê vir die regte Japannese letterkunde. Hierdie invloed is ietwat vergelykbaar met die invloed van Latyn op die Europese tale en letterkunde.

In die hof van keiser Tenmu (ongeveer 631 - 686) het sommige edeles Chinese poësie geskryf (kanshi). Chinese geletterdheid was 'n teken van opvoeding en die meeste hoë hofdienaars het poësie in Chinees geskryf. Later is hierdie werke versamel in die Kaifūsō, een van die vroegste digbundels in Japan, wat in die vroeë Heian -tydperk geredigeer is. Danksy hierdie boek bestaan ​​die doodsgedig van prins Ōtsu vandag nog. [2]

Die sterk invloed van die Chinese poëtika kan in Kakyō Hyōshiki gesien word. In die 772 -teks poog Fujiwara no Hamanari om fonetiese reëls vir Chinese poësie op Japannese poësie toe te pas.

Baie van die digters van die Tang -dinastie het bekendheid verwerf in Japan, soos Meng Haoran (Mōkōnen), Li Bo (Ri Haku) en Bai Juyi (Haku Kyo'i). In baie gevalle, toe hierdie digters in Europa en die Amerikas bekendgestel is, was die bron via Japan en kon 'n Japannese invloed gesien word in die uitsprake van die name van die digters, sowel as die gepaardgaande kritiese analise of kommentaar op die digters of hul werke.

Die Nara -tydperk (710 tot 794) het in 710 in Japan begin, met die verhuising van die Japannese hoofstad van Fujiwara (vandag se Asuka, Nara) na Nara. Dit was die tydperk toe die Chinese invloed 'n hoogtepunt bereik het. Gedurende die Nara-periode is Tōdai-ji ('Groot Tempel van die Ooste') saam met die skepping van die Groot Boeddha van Nara, op bevel van keiser Shōmu, gestig. Die beduidende waka digters in hierdie tydperk was Ōtomo no Tabito, Yamanoue no Okura en Yamabe geen Akahito.

Vroeë gedigte opgeneem Edit

Die oudste geskrewe werk in die Japannese letterkunde is Kojiki in 712, waarin Ō no Yasumaro die Japanse mitologie en geskiedenis opgeteken het soos voorgehou deur Hieda no Are, aan wie dit deur sy voorouers oorgedra is. Baie van die digterlike stukke wat deur die Kojiki is miskien oorgedra sedert die Japannese geen skryfwerk gehad het nie. Die Nihon Shoki, die oudste geskiedenis van Japan, wat agt jaar later voltooi is as die Kojiki, bevat ook baie poëtiese stukke. Dit was meestal nie lank nie en het geen vaste vorms nie. Die eerste gedig wat in beide boeke gedokumenteer is, word toegeskryf aan 'n kami (god), genaamd Susanoo, die jonger broer van Amaterasu. Toe hy met prinses Kushinada in die provinsie Izumo trou, het die kami 'n uta, of waka, n gedig.

八 雲 立 つ 出 雲 八 垣 妻 妻 籠 に 重 垣 垣 作 そ の 八 重 垣 垣 を Yakumo tatsu / Izumo yaegaki / Tsuma-gomi ni / Yaegaki tsukuru / Sono yaegaki wo

Dit is die oudste waka (gedig in Japannees geskryf) en daarom is poësie later geprys as gestig deur 'n kami, 'n goddelike skepping.

Die twee boeke het baie van dieselfde of soortgelyke stukke gedeel, maar Nihonshoki bevat nuwes omdat dit latere aangeleenthede (tot die bewind van keiser Tenmu) opgeteken het as Kojiki. Die temas van waka in die boeke was uiteenlopend, wat liefde, hartseer, satire, oorlogskrete, lof van oorwinning, raaisels en so meer dek. Baie werk in Kojiki was anoniem. Sommige word toegeskryf aan kami, keisers en keiserinne, edeles, generaals, gewone mense en soms vyande van die hof. Die meeste van hierdie werke word gesamentlik as 'werke van die mense' beskou, selfs al word dit aan iemand toegeskryf, soos die kami Susanoo.

Die Heian -periode (794 tot 1185) in Japan was een van beide uitgebreide algemene taalkundige en wedersydse poëtiese ontwikkeling, in Japan. Ontwikkelings sluit in die Kanbun -skryfstelsel deur die klassieke Chinees aan te pas vir gebruik in Japan deur 'n aantekeningproses te gebruik, en die verdere ontwikkeling van die kana -skryfstelsel uit die Man'yōgana van die Nara -periode, wat meer volkspoësie aanmoedig, ontwikkelinge in die waka vorm van poësie. Die Heian -era het ook 'n toenemende proses ontwikkel om gedigte te skryf (soms saam) en dit in versamelbundels te versamel, wat in die geval van die Kokin Wakashū 'n mate van aansien gekry het as gevolg van keiserlike beskerming.

Waka in die vroeë Heian -tydperk Redigeer

Daar word gedink dat die Man'yōshū bereik sy finale vorm, die een wat ons vandag ken, baie vroeg in die Heian -periode. Daar is sterk gronde om te glo dat Ōtomo no Yakamochi die finale redakteur was, maar sommige dokumente beweer dat verdere redigering in die latere tydperk deur ander digters gedoen is, waaronder Sugawara no Michizane.

Alhoewel daar 'n sterk neiging tot Chinese poësie was, was sommige vooraanstaande waka -digters in die vroeë Heian -periode aktief, waaronder die ses beste waka -digters.

Man'yōshū -bloemlesing Redigeer

Die oudste poëtiese versameling van waka, een of ander tyd na 759, is die 20 -bundel Man'yōshū, in die vroeë deel van die Heian -periode, het dit antieke werke versamel. Die volgorde van die afdelings is rofweg chronologies. Die meeste werke in die Man'yōshū het vandag 'n vaste vorm genaamd chōka en tanka. Maar vroeëre werke, veral in deel I, het nie 'n vaste vorm gehad nie en word toegeskryf aan keiser Yūryaku.

Die Man'yōshū begin met 'n waka sonder vaste vorm. Dit is beide 'n liefdeslied vir 'n onbekende meisie wat die digter toevallig ontmoet het, en 'n rituele lied wat die skoonheid van die land prys. Dit is waardig om aan 'n keiser toegeskryf te word en word vandag in die hofritueel gebruik.

Die eerste drie afdelings bevat meestal digterswerke van die middel van die 7de eeu tot die vroeë deel van die 8ste eeu. Beduidende digters onder hulle was Nukata no Ōkimi en Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was nie net die grootste digter in die vroeë dae nie en een van die belangrikste in die tyd Man'yōshū, hy het tereg 'n plek as een van die mees uitstaande digters in die Japannese letterkunde. Die Man'yōshū bevat ook baie vrouedigters wat hoofsaaklik liefdesgedigte geskryf het. Die digters van die Man'yōshū was aristokrate wat in Nara gebore is, maar soms as burokrate van die keiser in ander provinsies gewoon of gereis het. Hierdie digters het hul indrukke van reis neergeskryf en hul emosie vir liefhebbers of kinders uitgespreek. Soms het hul gedigte die politieke mislukking van die regering of tirannie van plaaslike amptenare gekritiseer. Yamanoue no Okura het 'n chōka geskryf, 'N Dialoog van twee armes (貧窮 問答 歌, Hinkyū mondōka) in hierdie gedig betreur twee arme mans hul ernstige armoede. Een hanka is soos volg:

世 の 中 を 憂 し と さ さ し と お も ど も 飛 び 立 か ね つ 鳥 に し ら ね ば Yononaka wo / Ushi na yasashi na / Omo (h) e domo / Tobitachi kanetsu / Tori ni is en die lewe / alhoewel / ek kan nie wegvlug nie / aangesien ek nie 'n voël is nie.

Die Man'yōshū bevat nie net gedigte van aristokrate nie, maar ook die van naamlose gewone mense. Hierdie gedigte word genoem Yomibito shirazu (よ み び と 知 ら ず), gedigte waarvan die outeur onbekend is. Onder hulle is daar 'n spesifieke styl waka genoem Azuma-uta (東 歌), waka geskryf in die Oos -dialek. Azuma, wat die Ooste beteken, het die oostelike provinsies aangewys wat ongeveer ooreenstem met Kantō en soms Tōhoku. Daardie gedigte was gevul met landelike geure. Daar was 'n spesifieke styl onder Azuma-uta, genaamd Sakimori uta (防 人 歌), waka deur soldate wat uit die Ooste gestuur is om Noord -Kyushu -gebied te verdedig. Hulle was hoofsaaklik waka deur opgestel soldate wat die huis verlaat het. Hierdie soldate is in die oostelike provinsies opgestel en is gedwing om etlike jare as wagte in Kyūshū te werk. Soms het hul poësie nostalgie uitgespreek oor hul verre tuisland.

Tanka is 'n naam vir en 'n tipe gedig wat in die Man'yōshū voorkom, wat gebruik word vir korter gedigte. Die naam het later nuwe lewe gekry deur Masaoka Shiki (pennaam van Masaoka Noboru, 14 Oktober 1867-19 September 1902).

Kanshi in die Heian tydperk Edit

In die vroeë Heian -periode was kanshi - poësie wat in Japannees in Chinees geskryf is - die gewildste poësiestyl onder Japannese aristokrate. Sommige digters soos Kūkai het in China gestudeer en was vlot in Chinees. Ander soos Sugawara no Michizane het in Japan grootgeword, maar het goed Chinees verstaan. Toe hulle buitelandse diplomate huisves, kommunikeer hulle nie mondelings nie, maar skriftelik, met behulp van kanji of Chinese karakters. In daardie tydperk het die Chinese poësie in China een van sy grootste bloeisels bereik. Groot Chinese digters uit die Tang -dinastie, soos Li Po, was hulle tydgenote en die werke daarvan was goed bekend aan die Japannese. Sommige wat na China gegaan het vir studie of diplomasie, het kennis gemaak met hierdie groot digters. Die gewildste style van kanshi was in 5 of 7 lettergrepe (onji) in 4 of 8 reëls, met baie streng rymreëls. Japannese digters het vaardig geword in die reëls en baie goeie poësie opgelewer. 'N Paar lang gedigte met reëls van 5 of 7 lettergrepe is ook gemaak. Dit word, as hulle gesing word, as shigin genoem - 'n praktyk wat vandag voortduur.

Keiser Saga was self vaardig in kanshi. Hy beveel die samestelling van drie bloemlesings van kanshi. Dit was die eerste van die keiserlike bloemlesings, 'n tradisie wat tot in die Muromachi -tydperk voortduur.

Roei styl waka Redigeer

Roei was destyds 'n gunstelingstyl om poëtiese werke voor te skryf. Dit was 'n manier om in die stem voor te skryf, met relatief stadige en lang klanke. Nie hele poëtiese stukke nie, maar 'n deel van die klassieke word deur individue aangehaal en voorgedra, gewoonlik gevolg deur 'n koor. Fujiwara no Kintō (966–1041) saamgestel Wakan rōeishū ("Sino-Japanese Anthology for Rōei", ca. 1013) uit Japannese en Chinese gedigte wat vir roei geskryf is. Een of twee reëls is aangehaal Wakan rōeishū en die aanhalings is gegroepeer in temas soos lente, reis, viering.

Waka in die konteks van elite -kultuur Edit

Kuge verwys na 'n Japannese aristokratiese klas, en waka poësie was 'n belangrike kenmerk van hul tipiese leefstyl, en dit sluit die nyobo of hofdames. In die ou tyd was dit 'n gebruik vir kuge om waka in plaas van letters in prosa te ruil. Soms is geïmproviseerde waka gebruik in daaglikse gesprekke in die hoë samelewing. In die besonder was die uitruil van waka algemeen tussen liefhebbers. Weerspieël hierdie gebruik, vyf van die twintig volumes van die Kokin Wakashū (of Kokinshū) versamel waka vir liefde. In die Heian -tydperk het die geliefdes soggens waka uitgeruil toe geliefdes by die vrou se huis geskei het. Die geruilde waka is gebel Kinuginu (後 朝), omdat daar gedink is dat die man by sy geliefde wil bly, en toe die son opkom, het hy byna geen tyd gehad om sy klere aan te trek wat in die plek van 'n matras gelê was nie (soos die gebruik was in daardie dae) . Gou het skryf en voorlesing van Waka deel geword van die aristokratiese kultuur. Mense het vrylik 'n stuk gepaste waka voorgedra om by 'n geleentheid iets te impliseer. In die Kussingsboek daar word geskryf dat 'n gemaal van keiser Murakami meer as 1 000 waka in memoriseer Kokin Wakashū met hul beskrywing.

Uta-awase, seremoniële waka -voordragwedstryde, ontwikkel in die middel van die Heian -periode. Die gebruik begin in die bewind van keiser Uda (r. 887 tot en met 897), die vader van keiser Daigo (r. 897 tot en met 930) wat beveel het dat die Kokin Wakashū. Dit was 'spangeveg' oor voorgestelde temas wat op dieselfde manier gegroepeer is as die groepering van gedigte in die Kokin Wakashū. Verteenwoordigers van elke span het 'n waka volgens hul tema voorgedra en die wenner van die ronde het 'n punt gewen. Die span met die hoër algehele telling het die wedstryd gewen. Beide die wen -digter en span het 'n sekere prys ontvang. Die hou van Uta-awase was duur en slegs moontlik vir keisers of 'n baie hoë ranglys.

Die grootte van Uta-awase het toegeneem. Uta-awase is aangeteken met honderde rondtes. Uta-awase het die verfyning van die wakategniek gemotiveer, maar ook waka formalisties en kunsmatig gemaak. Daar word van digters verwag om in die winter 'n lentewaka te skep of 'n gedig van liefde of klaaglied voor te skryf sonder werklike situasies.

Keiser Ichijō (980–1011) en die howe van sy keiserinne, byvroue en ander edele dames was 'n groot poel digters sowel as mans van die howe.

Die kussingsboek (begin gedurende die 990's en voltooi in 1002) en Verhaal van Genji deur Murasaki Shikibu (omstreeks 978 - ongeveer 1014 of 1025), uit die vroeë 11de eeu van die Heian -periode, gee ons voorbeelde van die lewe van aristokrate in die hof van keiser Ichijō en sy keiserinne. Murasaki Shikibu het meer as 3 000 tanka vir haar geskryf Verhaal van Genji in die vorm van waka het haar karakters in die verhaal geskryf. In die verhaal is die meeste van die waka geskep as 'n briefwisseling of 'n gesprek. Baie klassieke werke van beide waka en kanshi is deur die edeles aangehaal. Onder die klassieke digters het die Chinese Tang-dinastie-digter Bai Juyi (Po Chü-i) 'n groot invloed op die kultuur van die middelste Heian-periode gehad. Bai Juyi is deur albei aangehaal Die kussingsboek en Verhaal van Genji, en syne 'N Lied van oneindige hartseer (長恨歌), whose theme was a tragic love between the Chinese Emperor and his concubine, inspired Murasaki Shikibu to imagine tragic love affairs in the Japanese imperial court in her Tale of Genji.

Fujiwara no Teika Edit

Fujiwara no Teika (1162 to 1241) was a waka poet, critic, scribe and editor of the late Heian period and the early Kamakura period. Fujiwara no Teika had three lines of descendants: the Nijō, Reizei family and Kyōgoku family. Besides that, various members of the Fujiwara family are noted for their work in the field of poetry.

Kokin Wakashū anthology Edit

In the middle of the Heian period Waka revived with the compilation of the Kokin Wakashū. It was edited on the order of Emperor Daigo. About 1,000 waka, mainly from the late Nara period till the contemporary times, were anthologized by five waka poets in the court including Ki no Tsurayuki who wrote the kana preface ( 仮名序 , kanajo)

The Kana preface to Kokin Wakashū was the second earliest expression of literary theory and criticism in Japan (the earliest was by Kūkai). Kūkai's literary theory was not influential, but Kokin Wakashū set the types of waka and hence other genres which would develop from waka.

The collection is divided into twenty parts, reflecting older models such as the Man'yōshū and various Chinese anthologies. The organisation of topics is however different from all earlier models, and was followed by all later official collections, although some collections like the Kin'yō Wakashū en Shika Wakashū reduced the number of parts to ten. The parts of the Kokin Wakashū are ordered as follows: Parts 1–6 covered the four seasons, followed by congratulatory poems, poetry at partings, and travel poems. The last ten sections included poetry on the 'names of things', love, laments, occasional poems, miscellaneous verse, and finally traditional and ceremonial poems from the Bureau of Poetry.

The compilers included the name of the author of each poem, and the topic (題 dai) or inspiration of the poem, if known. Major poets of the Kokin Wakashū include Ariwara no Narihira, Ono no Komachi, Henjō and Fujiwara no Okikaze, apart from the compilers themselves. Inclusion in any imperial collection, and particularly the Kokin Wakashū, was a great honour.

Influence of Kokin Wakashū Edit

Die Kokin Wakashū is the first of the Nijūichidaishū, the 21 collections of Japanese poetry compiled at Imperial request. It was the most influential realization of the ideas of poetry at the time, dictating the form and format of Japanese poetry until the late nineteenth century. The primacy of poems about the seasons pioneered by the Kokin Wakashū continues even today in the haiku tradition. The Japanese preface by Ki no Tsurayuki is also the beginning of Japanese criticism as distinct from the far more prevalent Chinese poetics in the literary circles of its day. (The anthology also included a traditional Chinese preface authored by Ki no Tomonori.) The idea of including old as well as new poems was another important innovation, one which was widely adopted in later works, both in prose and verse. The poems of the Kokin Wakashū were ordered temporally the love poems, for instance, depict the progression and fluctuations of a courtly love-affair. This association of one poem to the next marks this anthology as the ancestor of the renga en haikai traditions.

The period of cloistered rule overlapped the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura period. Cloistered rule (Insei) refers to an emperor "retiring" into a monastery, while continuing to maintain a certain amount of influence and power over worldly affairs, and yet retaining time for poetry or other activities. During this time the Fujiwara clan was also active both politically and poetically. The period of cloistered rule mostly Heian period but continuing into the early Kamakura period, in or around the 12th century, some new movements of poetry appeared.

Imayō in the period of cloistered rule Edit

First a new lyrical form called imayō (今様, modern style, a form of ryūkōka) emerged. Imayō consists of four lines in 8–5 (or 7–5) syllables. Usually it was sung to the accompaniment of instrumental music and dancing. Female dancers (shirabyōshi) danced to the accompaniment of imayō. Major works were compiled into the Ryōjin Hishō (梁塵秘抄) anthology. Although originally women and commoners are thought to be proponents of the genre, Emperor Go-Shirakawa was famed for his mastery of imayō.

Waka in the period of cloistered rule Edit

Some new trends appeared in waka. There were two opposite trends: an inclination to the contemporary, modern style and on the other hand a revival of the traditional style. Both trends had their schools and won the honor to compile imperial anthologies of waka. Fujiwara no Shunzei and his son Fujiwara no Teika were the leaders of the latter school.

Renga in the period of cloistered rule Edit

Also in this period for the first time renga were included in the imperial anthologies of waka. At that time, renga was considered a variant of waka. The renga included were waka created by two persons only, quite unlike the later style which featured many stanzas.

The Kamakura period (1185–1333) is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 AD in Kamakura, by the first shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan.

Shin Kokin Wakashū anthology Edit

In the late period rule by cloistered Emperors, or the early Kamakura period (1185–1333), Emperor Go-Toba (1180–1239), who had abdicated, ordered the compilation of the eighth imperial anthology of waka, the Shin Kokin Wakashū. Go-Toba himself joined the team of editors. Other editors included Fujiwara no Teika and Kamo no Chōmei.

Later Imperial waka anthologies Edit

The Kamakura period influence continued after the end of the actual period: after the Shin Kokin Wakashū, fourteen waka anthologies were compiled under imperial edict: the 13 Jūsandaishū ( 十三代集 ) and the Shin'yō Wakashū (c. 1381). These anthologies reflected the taste of aristocrats (and later, warriors) and were considered the ideal of waka in each period. Moreover, anthologizing served as a proof of cultural legitimacy of the patrons and often had political connotations. [3]

The Nanboku-chō period (1334–1392) is also known as the "Northern and Southern Courts period". Poetic movements included Renga developments, such as the publication of the Tsukubashū – the first imperial anthology of renga, in about 1356. There were various Renga poets, critics and theories, such as the development of shikimoku (renga rules) and Sōgi. Haikai no renga appears – as a parody of renga Shinseninutusukbashu. Noh play and poetry began to develop. There was influence from waka and other poetry, and Noh play reading as verse.

Renga Edit

Renga is a collaborative verse form between two or more poets. Tsukubashū, the first imperial anthology of renga, was published in about 1356. This lent imperial prestige to this form of verse.

The Sengoku period literally derives its name from the Japanese for "warring states". It was a militarily and politically turbulent period, with nearly constant military conflict which lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century, and which during which there were also developments in renga en waka poetry.

In the Pre-modern or Edo period (1602–1869) some new styles of poetry developed. One of greatest and most influential styles was renku, (also known as haikai no renga, or haikai), emerging from renga in the medieval period. Matsuo Bashō was a great haikai master and had a wide influence on his contemporaries and later generations. Bashō was also a prominent writer of haibun, a combination of prose and haiku, one famous example being his Oku no Hosomichi (or, The Narrow Road to the Interior).

The tradition of collaboration between painters and poets had a beneficial influence on poetry in the middle Edo period. In Kyoto there were some artists who were simultaneously poets and painters. Painters of the Shujo school were known as good poets. Among such poet-painters the most significant was Yosa Buson. Buson began his career as a painter but went on to become a master of renku, too. He left many paintings accompanied by his own haiku poems. Such combination of haiku with painting is known as haiga.

Waka underwent a revival, too, in relation to kokugaku, the study of Japanese classics. Kyōka (mad song), a type of satirical waka was also popular.

One poetry school of the era was the Danrin school.

Hokku Edit

Hokku renga, or of its later derivative, renku (haikai no renga). [4] From the time of Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), the hokku began to appear as an independent poem, and was also incorporated in haibun (in combination with prose).

Haikai Edit

Haikai emerged from the renga of the medieval period. Matsuo Bashō was a noted proponent. Related to hokku formally, it was generically different.

In the late Edo period, a master of haikai, Karai Senryū made an anthology. His style became known as senryū, after his pseudonym. Senryū is a style of satirical poetry whose motifs are taken from daily life in 5–7–5 syllables. Anthologies of senryū in the Edo period collect many 'maeku' or senryū made by ordinary amateur senryū poets adding in front of the latter 7–7 part written by a master. It was a sort of poetry contest and the well written senryū by amateurs were awarded by the master and other participants.

A new wave came from the West when Japan was introduced to European and American poetry. This poetry belonged to a very different tradition and was regarded by Japanese poets as a form without any boundaries. Shintai-shi (New form poetry) or Jiyu-shi (Freestyle poetry) emerged at this time. They still relied on a traditional pattern of 5–7 syllable patterns, but were strongly influenced by the forms and motifs of Western poetry. Later, in the Taishō period (1912 to 1926), some poets began to write their poetry in a much looser metric. In contrast with this development, kanshi slowly went out of fashion and was seldom written. As a result, Japanese men of letters lost the traditional background of Chinese literary knowledge. Originally the word shi meant poetry, especially Chinese poetry, but today it means mainly modern-style poetry in Japanese. Shi is also known as kindai-shi (modern poetry). Since World War II, poets and critics have used the name gendai-shi (contemporary poetry). This includes the poets Kusano Shinpei, Tanikawa Shuntarō and Ishigaki Rin.

As for the traditional styles such as waka en haiku, the early modern era was also a time of renovation. Yosano Tekkan and later Masaoka Shiki revived those forms. The words haiku en tanka were both coined by Shiki. They laid the basis for development of this poetry in the modern world. They introduced new motifs, rejected some old authorities in this field, recovered forgotten classics, and published magazines to express their opinions and lead their disciples. This magazine-based activity by leading poets is a major feature of Japanese poetry even today.

Some poets, including Yosano Akiko, Ishikawa Takuboku, Hagiwara Sakutarō wrote in many styles: they used both traditional forms like waka and haiku and new style forms. Most Japanese poets, however, generally write in a single form of poetry.

Haiku Edit

Haiku derives from the earlier hokku. The name was given by Masaoka Shiki (pen-name of Masaoka Noboru, October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902).

Tanka Edit

Tanka is a name for and a type of poem found in the Heian era poetry anthology Man'yōshū. The name was given new life by Masaoka Shiki (pen-name of Masaoka Noboru, October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902).

Contemporary Poetry Edit

Japanese Contemporary Poetry consists of poetic verses of today, mainly after the 1900s. It includes vast styles and genres of prose including experimental, sensual, dramatic, erotic, and many contemporary poets today are female. Japanese contemporary poetry like most regional contemporary poem seem to either stray away from the traditional style or fuse it with new forms. Because of a great foreign influence Japanese contemporary poetry adopted more of a western style of poet style where the verse is more free and absent of such rules as fixed syllable numeration per line or a fixed set of lines.

In 1989 the death of Emperor Hirohito officially brought Japan’s postwar period to an end. The category of "postwar", born out of the cataclysmic events of 1945, had until that time been the major defining image of what contemporary Japanese poetry was all about (The New Modernism, 2010). For poets standing at that border, poetry had to be reinvented just as Japan as a nation began reinventing itself. But while this was essentially a sense of creativity and liberation from militarist oppression, reopening the gates to new form and experimentation, this new boundary crossed in 1989 presented quite a different problem, and in a sense cut just as deeply into the sense of poetic and national identity. The basic grounding “postwar”, with its dependence on the stark differentiation between a Japan before and after the atomic bomb, was no longer available. Identity was no longer so clearly defined (The New Modernism, 2010) In 1990, a most loved and respected member of Japan’s avant-garde and a bridge between Modernist and Post-Modern practice unexpectedly died. Yoshioka Minoru, the very embodiment of what the postwar period meant to Japanese poetry, had influenced virtually all of the younger experimental poets, and received the admiration even of those outside the bounds of that genre (The New Modernism, 2010). The event shocked and dazed Japan’s poetry community, rendering the confusion and loss of direction all the more graphic and painful. Already the limits of “postwar” were being exceeded in the work of Hiraide Takashi and Inagawa Masato. These two poets were blurring the boundary between poetry and criticism, poetry and prose, and questioning conventional ideas of what comprised the modern in Japan (The New Modernism, 2010). Statistically there are about two thousand poets and more than two hundred poetry magazines in Japan today. The poets are divided into five groups: (1) a group publishing the magazine, Vou, under the flag of new humanism (2) Jikon or time, with neo-realism as their motto, trying to depict the gap between reality and the socialistic ideal as simply as possible (3) the Communist group (4) Rekitei or progress, mixing Chinese Han poetry and the traditional Japanese lyric, and (5) Arechi or waste land (Sugiyama, 254).

The Western poets who appeal to the taste of poetry lovers in Japan are principally French(Verlaine), Paul Valéry, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Rainer Maria Rilke is also a favorite (Sugiyama, 255). English poetry is not very popular except among students of English literature in the universities, although Wordsworth, Shelley, and Browning inspired many of the Japanese poets in the quickening period of modern Japanese poetry freeing themselves from the traditional tanka form into a free verse style only half a century ago (Sugiyama, 256). In more recent women’s poetry, one finds an exploration of the natural rhythms of speech, often in a specifically feminine language rather than a high, literary form, as well as the language of local dialects (The New Modernism, 2010). All of these strategies are expressions of difference, whether sexual or regional, and map out shifting fields of identity in modern Japan against a backdrop of mass culture where these identities might otherwise be lost or overlooked.


A History of Japanese Literature/Book 1


There are a few geographical and other facts which it is useful to bear in mind in tracing the history of Japanese literature. If we glance at a map of Eastern Asia we see that Japan forms a group of islands somewhat larger in superficial area than Great Britain and Ireland, separated by a narrow strait from the adjoining continent. Here lies the peninsula of Corea, inhabited by a nation distinct from the Chinese in race and language, but from ancient times dependent both politically and intellectually on its powerful neighbour. Corea has shown little originality in the development of its literature or civilisation, and its chief importance in connection with Japan depends on its geographical position, which, in the infancy of the art of navigation, made it the natural intermediary between Japan and China.

China, with its ancient civilisation, its copious and in many respects remarkable literature, and a history which goes back for more than two thousand years, has for many centuries exercised a commanding influence over all its neighbours. What Greece and Rome have been to Europe, China has been to the nations of the far East. Japan, in particular, is very deeply indebted to it. There is no department of Japanese national life and thought, ​ whether material civilisation, religion, morals, political organisation, language, or literature, which does not bear traces of Chinese influence.

Beyond China lies India, which has furnished one important factor in moulding the literature of Japan, namely, Buddhism. If, in regard to Japan, China takes the place of Greece and Rome, Buddhism, with its softening and humanising influences, holds a position similar to that of Christianity in the Western World. The alternate preponderance of these two powers is an interesting feature of Japanese history, and we shall see that it has not been without effect upon the literature.

We must not, however, forget the native genius of the Japanese nation, which, in spite of numerous external obligations, has yet retained its originality. The Japanese are never contented with simple borrowing. In art, political institutions, and even religion, they are in the habit of modifying extensively everything which they adopt from others, and impressing on it the stamp of the national mind. It is the same with the literature. Though enormously indebted to China, and at times hindered in its natural development by a too implicit reliance on foreign guidance, it has remained nevertheless a true index of the national character. It is the literature of a brave, courteous, light-hearted, pleasure-loving people, sentimental rather than passionate, witty and humorous, of nimble apprehension, but not profound ingenious and inventive, but hardly capable of high intellectual achievement of receptive minds endowed with a voracious appetite for knowledge with a turn for neatness and elegance of expression, but seldom or never rising to sublimity.

The insular position and political independence of ​ Japan no doubt account partially for the literature retaining its native originality of character. But more is no doubt due to a fundamental difference of race from the nations to which the Japanese have been indebted. There is reason to believe that the Japanese nation contains an aboriginal polynesian element (which some writers call Malay), but the evidence of language and anthropology is conclusive that it is in the main a continental race, quite distinct, however, from the Chinese. It must have come from a more northerly region, and geographical considerations point distinctly to Corea as the point of embarkation. Beyond this it is safer not to go. Nor need we attempt to fix any date for their migration. Native tradition is silent on the subject, or rather assumes that the Japanese are aborigines. The process of colonisation probably extended over centuries, and the numerous immigrations from Corea to Japan in historical times are no doubt simply a continuation of the same movement.

The first historical fact to be gleaned from the legendary stories which have been preserved to us in the ancient Japanese annals is an invasion of the central part of the country, already settled by men of Japanese race, by a conquering army from the western island of Kiushiu. Their leader, Jimmu Tennō, who is recognised as the first Mikado, established his capital in the province of Yamato at a time which it is best to indicate vaguely as a few centuries before the Christian epoch. Here, or in one of the adjoining provinces, his successors reigned for many centuries, each Mikado building himself a palace and founding a capital in a fresh locality. A semi-nomad arrangement of this kind is obviously incompatible with much advance in civilisation. It was not until the capital ​ was established on a more permanent footing at Nara, in the beginning of the eighth century, that any substantial progress was made in literature and the arts.

Although the Archaic period has left us but few literary monuments, it is marked by two events of prime importance for the development of literature in Japan. One is the introduction of the art of writing, with which was associated an acquaintance with the literature and history of China and the other the first propagation of the Buddhist religion. Both came, in the first place, from Corea, which had received them from China no long time before. Until they became acquainted with Chinese the Japanese had no written character. It is probable that individuals had acquired some knowledge of the Chinese language and script early in the Christian era, but the first actual mention of the study of Chinese in Japan belongs to A.D. 405. In this year a Corean named Wangin was appointed tutor in Chinese to a Japanese Imperial Prince. He was the first of a succession of teachers from Corea whose instructions paved the way for a revolution in Japanese customs and institutions, not less profound and far-reaching than that which we have witnessed in our own day as the result of an acquaintance with Western civilisation and science.

Buddhism was introduced about one hundred and fifty years later—in the middle of the sixth century—but it was not until the seventh that it made much progress. Its real founder in Japan was the Imperial Prince Shōtoku Daishi, who died A.D. 621.

In the scanty remains of the period with which we are now dealing, there is scarce any trace either of Buddhist or of Chinese influences. It may be said that the Kiujiki, a historical work attributed to the Prince just mentioned, ​ should be reckoned an exception to this statement. But its authenticity has been questioned and, in any case, it is in the Chinese language, and therefore, properly speaking, forms no part of Japanese literature.

The oldest relics of the genuine native literature of Japan are a series of songs contained in the ancient annals known as the Kojiki en Nihongi, en die Norito or liturgies of the Shinto, or native Japanese religion.

These songs are associated with some historical or quasi-historical incident, and are ascribed to Mikados or other distinguished personages. Several of them are attributed to Jimmu Tennō, who is said to have founded the Japanese monarchy in 660 B.C. , and equally fictitious accounts are given of others. Probably we shall not be far wrong if we assign most of the poems of the Kojiki en Nihongi to the latter part of the Archaic period, namely, to the sixth and seventh centuries of our era.

The poetry of this time possesses a certain philological and archæological interest, but its merit as literature is small. The language is still unformed, and there is a plentiful lack of imagination and of the other higher qualities of poetry. What, for example, can be more primitive than the following war-song, which is supposed to have been chanted by Jimmu Tennō's soldiers, and which, the author of the Nihongi informs us, was still sung by the Imperial Guards in his own day?

" Ho! now is the time
Ho! now is the time
Ha! Ha! Psha!
Even now
My boys!
Even now
My boys!"

​ Or this, which is dated 90 B.C. ?

" The Hall of Miwa
⁠ (Of sweet saké fame),
Even at morn its door
⁠ Let us push open—
The door of the Hall of Miwa."

Saké, it ought, perhaps, to be explained, is an intoxicating liquor brewed from rice. The sentiment of this song therefore recalls our own "We won't go home till morning."

The following, which is said to have been composed by the Mikado Ōjin, A.D. 282, but which more probably belongs to the sixth century, may serve to indicate the highest level to which poetry attained during this period. This Mikado was about to add to his harem a beautiful woman named Kami-naga-hime, or the "long-haired maid," when he discovered that his son had fallen violently in love with her. He invited them both to a banquet, and then surprised his son by resigning to him the lady with the following words:—

" Lo! my son!
On the moor, garlic to gather,
Garlic to gather,
On the way as I went,
Pleasing of perfume
Was the orange in flower.
Its branches beneath
Men had all plundered,
Its branches above
Birds perching had withered,
Midway its branches
Held in their hiding
A blushing maiden.
Lo! my son, for thee
Let her burst into blossom."

​ The Kojiki en Nihongi have preserved to us more than two hundred of these poems. Their study tends to correct ideas such as that of Macaulay, who, doubtless reasoning from the now exploded premiss that Homer is a primitive poet, argued that "in a rude state of society we may expect to find the poetical temperament in its highest perfection." Judging from this early poetry of Japan, a want of culture by no means acts as a stimulus to the poetic faculty. We nowhere find "the agony, the ecstasy, the plenitude of belief," which Macaulay would have us look for in this product of an age and country which were certainly far less advanced than those of Homer in intellectual culture. Instead of passion, sublimity, and a vigorous imagination, we have little more than mild sentiment, word-plays, and pretty conceits. Moreover, a suspicion will not be banished that even for such poetical qualities as they possess, these poems are in some degree indebted to the inspiration of China. Of this, however, I cannot offer any definite proof.

The prose of the Archaic period is represented by a series of Norito, [1] or prayers to the deities of the Shinto religion, which were recited with much ceremony by the Nakatomi, a hereditary corporation of court officials whose especial function it was to represent the Mikado in his capacity of high priest of the nation. Their precise date and authorship are unknown. In their essence they are no doubt of very great antiquity, but there is reason ​ to believe that they did not assume their present form until the seventh century, some of them perhaps even later. The Norito are not known to have been committed to writing before the period Yengi (901–923), when the preparation was begun of the work entitled Yengishiki or "Institutes of Yengi," a collection of the ceremonial regulations in force at this time. Die Yengishiki enumerates seventy-five of these prayers, and gives the text of twenty-seven, which, no doubt, comprise all the most important. There are prayers for a good harvest, deprecating fire and pestilence, invoking blessings on the palace, services in honour of the Food Goddess, the Wind Deities, and so on. The most famous of all is the Ōharai or General Purification Service. It is not devoid of literary quality, as the following translation may perhaps indicate. The other Norito which I have read are much inferior in merit.

"Give ear, all ye Imperial Princes, Ministers of State, and high functionaries, who are here assembled, and hearken to the great purification by which at this interlune of the sixth month are purged and washed away all sins which may have been committed by Imperial officials and attendants—whether they wear the scarf [women] or the shoulder strap [stewards] whether they bear on their back the bow, or gird on them the sword.

"Of yore, our Imperial ancestors who dwell in the plain of high heaven, summoned to an assembly the eight hundred myriads of deities, and held divine counsel with them. And they gave command, saying, 'Let our August Grandchild hold serene rule over the land of fair rice-ears—the fertile reed-plain.' But in the land thus delivered to him there were savage deities. These they chastised with a divine chastisement, and expelled with a ​ divine expulsion. Moreover, the rocks, trees, and leaves of grass which had the power of speech, were silenced. Then they despatched him downward from his celestial, everlasting throne, cleaving as he went with an awful way-cleaving the many-piled clouds of heaven. Here at the middle point of the land entrusted to him—in Yamato, the High Sun Land—the August Grandchild established his peaceful rule and built a fair palace, basing deep on the nethermost rock the massy pillars, and upraising to high heaven the timbers of the roof wherewithal to shelter him from sun and sky.

"Now, of the various offences to be committed by the celestial race destined more and more to people this land of peaceful rule, some are of heaven and others of earth. Heavenly offences are the breaking down of divisions between rice-fields, filling up of water-courses, removing water-pipes, flaying alive, flaying backwards. . . . Earthly offences are the cutting of living bodies, the cutting of dead bodies, leprosy, incest, calamities from creeping things, from the high gods and from high birds, killing of cattle, bewitchments.

"Whensoever these offences are committed, for committed they will be, let the great Nakatomi clip heavenly twigs at the top and clip them at the bottom, making thereof a complete array of one thousand stands for offerings. Having trimmed rushes of heaven at the top and trimmed them at the bottom, let them split them into a manifold brush. Then let them recite this great liturgy.

"When they do so, the gods of heaven, thrusting open the adamantine doors of heaven and cleaving the many-piled clouds of heaven with an awful way-cleaving, will approach and lend ear. The gods of earth, ascending ​ to the tops of the high mountains and the tops of the low mountains, sweeping aside the mists of the high mountains and the mists of the low mountains, will approach and lend ear.

"Then shall no offences remain unpurged, from the court of the august child of the gods even to the remotest ends of the realm. As the many-piled clouds of heaven are scattered at the breath of the Wind Gods as the morning breezes and the evening breezes disperse the morning vapours and the evening vapours as a huge ship moored in a great harbour, casting off its stern moorings, casting off its bow moorings, drives forth into the vast ocean as yonder thick brushwood is smitten and cleared away by the sharp sickle forged in the fire—so shall all offences be swept utterly away. To purge and purify them, let the goddess Seoritsu-hime, who dwells in the rapids of the swift stream whose cataracts tumble headlong from the high mountains and from the low mountains, bear them out into the great sea plain. There let the goddess Haya-akitsu-hime, who dwells in the myriad ways of the tides of the raging sea, and in the myriad meeting-places of the tides of the myriad sea paths, swallow them up, and let the god Ibukido Nushi [the master of the spurting-out place], who dwells in Ibukido, spurt them out away to the nether region. Then let the goddess Haya-sasura-hime, who dwells in the nether region, dissolve and destroy them.

"They are now destroyed, and all, from the servants of the Imperial court down to the people in the four quarters of the realm, are from this day forth void of offence.

"Attend, all of you, with ears pricked up to the plain of high heaven, to this great purification by which, on this ​ interlune of the sixth month as the sun goes down, your offences are purged and purified."

The Norito, although prose, are in some respects more poetical than much of the contemporary poetry. This is not the place to discuss the general question whether literature begins with prose or poetry. It may be noted, however, that the earliest Japanese literature presents two imperfectly differentiated types—a poetry which in metrical form, thought, and diction, is not far removed from prose and prose compositions which contain an appreciable element of poetry.


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A Little Background on Japanese Post-war Fiction

Japan’s post-war literature is one of many faces. After the defeat of the empire in WWII, the land of the rising sun was crushed…instead of a beacon of honor and duty it resembled a driverless train. Yearning for a new sense of identity, the authors of the time wrote about what was in order to justify what is all in the hopes of eventually seeing what was bound to come—a bright future.

A very proud country still coping with defeat and post-atomic horror, its stories speak of disaffection, mourn a loss of purpose, flirt with darkness, but mostly, they seek to identify the intellectual and moral issues of that time for the purpose of raising awareness—socially, ecologically, and politically. A familiar aim found in every notable work of fiction, ancient or modern.

Japanese writers born in the 20 th century wrote about the issues of war, religion, and morality with a unique, more personal intent—diving deep into the human psyche.

In recent years, that fixation on exploring the human condition has become more prominent. Modern Japanese writers are preoccupied with pushing their characters (mostly the narrator) to their limits. In Japanese fiction, plot development and action have often been of secondary interest to emotional issues and the moral boundaries we often cross—or do not cross.

Did I mention this topic could get a little dark?

With this little bit of background in mind, take the plunge into how the other side of the world has seen things…all the while increasing your Japanese vocabulary and practicing your kanji!

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A History of Japanese Literature, Volume 1: The Archaic and Ancient Ages

This book, which covers the period from preliterate times to the beginning of the tenth century, is the first of five proposed volumes that will give an account of Japanese literature from its beginnings to the death of the modern novelist Mishima.

Originally published in 1984.

Die Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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