By Donald Keene

Perhaps nobody is extra certified to jot down approximately jap tradition than Donald Keene, thought of the top interpreter of that nation's literature to the Western international. the writer, editor, or translator of approximately 3 dozen books of feedback and works of literature, Keene now bargains an stress-free and fantastically written creation to standard eastern tradition for the overall reader.

The publication acquaints the reader with eastern aesthetics, poetry, fiction, and theater, and provides Keene's appreciations of those themes. according to lectures given on the ny Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of artwork, and the collage of California, la, the essays -though written via a popular student- presuppose no wisdom of eastern tradition. Keene's deep studying, in truth, allows him to build an outline as pleasant to learn because it is informative.

His insights frequently light up elements of conventional jap tradition that suffer this present day. the sort of is the appreciation of "perishability." this appreciation os obvious in numerous little bits of eastern existence: in temples made from wooden rather than sturdy fabrics; within the choice for items -such as pottery- which are worn, damaged, or used instead of new; and within the nationwide love of the fragile cherry blossom, which typically falls after a short 3 days of flowering. Keene fees the fourteenth-century Buddhist monk Kenko, who wrote that "the most beneficial factor approximately existence is its uncertainty."

Throughout the amount, Keene demonstrates that the wealthy inventive and social traditions of Japan can certainly be understood by way of readers from our tradition. This ebook will enlighten someone drawn to eastern literature and culture.

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Extra resources for The Pleasures of Japanese Literature

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On another, less elevated level, renga was also used in gambling. After the topic for a renga sequence was set, participants composed verses that were awarded points for excellence. Persons with the highest number of points were I !. 67 68 THE PLEASURES OF JAPANESE LITERATURE etic form at this time was the haiku, and haiku masters made their living mainly by correcting the poetry of their pupils. Earlier poets like the renga master Sogi had traveled around the country, staying for months at a time with the local potentates in return for graciously condescending to composing renga with them; but in the kinsei period (16001867), haiku masters were less likely to receive hospitality than a monetary payment for each poem corrected.

The poet asks rhetorically if this 3. Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, in The Manyoshii, Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai translation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), p. 39. Subsequent quotations from The Manyoshii are from this edition. THE USES OF JAPANESE POETRY palace, built to last "ten thousand generations," will ever disappear; he implies that even though Prince Takechi is no more, his works will last forever. e world as an angry ghost. To stress the permanence of worldly achievements was by no means typical of the Japanese.

In 1946 Professor Kuwahara Takeo THE USES OF JAPANESE POETRY of Kyoto University published a famous essay in which he asserted that haiku was a second-rate art. Using methodology similar to that of I. A Richards in Practical Criticism, Kuwahara asked various people to rate a number of haiku, concealing the names of the poets. The answers were so chaotic-poems that had appeared in the Postman's Gazette or the Butcher's Companion were not infrequently rated higher than those by acknowledged masters-that he concluded that there simply were no standards when it came to judging haiku except the reputations of the poets.

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