Written Chinese served as a prestigious, cosmopolitan script across medieval East Asia, from as far west as the Tarim Basin to the eastern kingdom of Heian period Japan (794–1185). In this book, Brian Steininger revisits the mid-Heian court of the Tale of Genji and the Pillow Book, where literary Chinese was not only the basis of official administration, but also a medium for political protest, sermons of mourning, and poems of celebration.Chinese Literary Forms in Heian Japan reconstructs the lived practice of Chinese poetic and prose genres among Heian officials, analyzing the material exchanges by which documents were commissioned, the local reinterpretations of Tang aesthetic principles, and the ritual venues in which literary Chinese texts were performed in Japanese vocalization. Even as state ideology and educational institutions proclaimed the Chinese script’s embodiment of timeless cosmological patterns, everyday practice in this far-flung periphery subjected classical models to a string of improvised exceptions. Through careful comparison of literary and documentary sources, this book provides a vivid case study of one society’s negotiation of literature’s position—both within a hierarchy of authority and between the incommensurable realms of script and speech.
Used for self-study or in the classroom, this text shows the reader how to read and translate technical Japanese texts by providing graded readings, explanatory notes, and translation aids.
This study revolves around the career of Kobayashi Hideo (1902–1983), one of the seminal figures in the history of modern Japanese literary criticism, whose interpretive vision was forged amidst the cultural and ideological crises that dominated intellectual discourse between the 1920s and the 1940s.Kobayashi sought in criticism a vehicle through which to rhetorically restore to the artistic work an aura of concreteness that precluded interpretation and instead inspired awe, to somehow recover a literary experience unmediated by intellectual machinations. In adhering firmly to this worldview for the duration of World War II, Kobayashi came to assume a complex stance toward the wartime regime. Although his interweaving of aesthetics and ideology exhibited elements of both resistance and complicity, his critical ethos served ultimately to undergird his wartime fascist stance by encouraging acquiescence to authority, championing patriotism, and calling for more vigorous thought control.Treating Kobayashi’s influential works and the historical context in which they are rooted, James Dorsey traces the emergence of a modern critical consciousness in conversation with such concerns as the nature of materiality in capitalist culture, the relationship of narrative to subjectivity, and the nostalgia for beauty in a time of war.
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