By Professor Haruo Shirane, Tomi Suzuki, Professor David Lurie

The Cambridge historical past of eastern Literature offers, for the 1st time, a historical past of eastern literature with finished insurance of the premodern and glossy eras in one quantity. The booklet is prepared topically in a chain of brief, available chapters for simple entry and reference, giving perception into either canonical texts and plenty of lesser recognized, renowned genres, from centuries-old folks literature to the detective fiction of recent occasions. many of the interval introductions offer an summary of recurrent matters that span many a long time, if no longer centuries. The booklet additionally locations eastern literature in a much wider East Asian culture of Sinitic writing and gives accomplished insurance of women's literature in addition to new well known literary varieties, together with manga (comic books). an intensive bibliography of works in English permits readers to proceed to discover this wealthy culture via translations and secondary studying.

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Book Two presents the expansion and solidification of the realm of the sovereigns through conquest and religious authority. It begins with an account of Jinmu’s journey eastward from Kyushu, alternately fighting with and relying on local gods and various human and non-human creatures, until he successfully establishes his palace at Kashiwara (in the southern Nara basin). After a mysterious series of eight “sovereigns” with only genealogical information, Jinmu’s descendant Sujin and Sujin’s son Suinin are portrayed as expanding the religious role of the sovereigns, ending an epidemic through ¯ mononushi) and averting a curse by worship of the deity of Mount Miwa (O refurbishing the Izumo shrine.

The narration consequently elevates the characters even as they die. The same can be said of climactic scenes in The Tale of Genji or in the final chapter of The Tales of the Heike, when Kenreimon’in reflects on the destruction of her clan. In most of these scenes descriptions of nature and seasons, so central to Japanese vernacular poetry, suggest that death is not an end but a return to nature. Except for some types of folk literature (setsuwa), it is hard to find a work of premodern Japanese prose literature that does not include poetry.

The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712) and Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan, 720) are important for their content – a mix of myth, legend, and history, interspersed with poetry – and for the very different styles in which they were written. Their influence and significance is apparent in the variety of other narratives written about Japanese incidents and institutions in the remainder of the Nara and the early Heian periods, and also in the long tradition of scholarship and commentary they generated (devoted almost exclusively to the Nihon shoki until the early modern period).

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