A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years by Shuichi Kato (auth.)

By Shuichi Kato (auth.)

Shuichi Kato's two-volume heritage of eastern literature is extraordinary for its severe and comparative seize in addition to for its ancient scholarship. it's also a distinct contribution to the topic insofar because it accommodates the gigantic unfold of kambun (classic chinese language) literature written through eastern authors. by way of relocating past the dialogue of literary types and magnificence into the social historical past which has formed the works, Professor Kato offers the 1st actual background of jap literature in its context; in truth, given the significance of literature in jap cultural background more often than not, Professor Kato's paintings may perhaps both be considered as a examine of Japan's highbrow heritage via literature.

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The first is the thorough integration of literature into the culture of the ruling class. ). Writing poetry at the Heian court was an indispensable part of everyday culture, while the education of the warrior bureaucrats in the Tokugawa period followed continental patterns and rested on the basis of classical Chinese literature. As far as Kabuki is concerned, in the Japan of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the theatre played a central role in city culture as a whole, perhaps more than any other factor.

Language is built up from parts into a whole while the indigenous world-view places emphasis on the special nature of concrete parts and pays little attention to the universal nature of the abstract whole. In this way the special features of language and the world-view correspond and it was convenient for the Japanese to express their view through the vehicle of language in literary form rather than devise speculative philosophical systems. Naturally, as a consequence the role played by literature in culture as a whole was correspondingly larger than is usual.

Christianity had an influence only in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and from the late nineteenth century onwards, whereas Marxism exerted an influence between the two wars, mostly on the Japanese intelligentsia. Taoism is also worthy of mention as is Western scientific thought from the nineteenth century, but although both these had an undeniable influence on literature, neither presented comprehensive systems for the interpretation of nature, man, society and history as a whole.

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