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HEIAN

PERIOD
L
PERIOD
EDO ERA
WESTERN
INFLUENC
E
POSTWAR
LITERATU
RE
HEIAN PERIOD
• In Japanese history, the period between 794 and 1185,
named for the location of the imperial capital, which was
moved from Nara to Heian-kyō (Kyōto) in 794.
• The Japanese had imported many things from China in the
few preceding centuries — Buddhism, Confucianism, poetry
(and the language, Chinese, in which poems were
recorded), art techniques, methods of organizing
government, even the plan for the city of Heian-kyô itself.
HEIAN PERIOD
• The aristocrats who lived in Kyôto considered poetry, music, and
indeed all the arts to be the most important human
accomplishments.
• They included aesthetic skills we rarely think of now, such as
mixing incense to make the most beautiful fragrances.
• Lovers courted each other with poetry, often written in the form
of waka or tanka, and affairs succeeded or failed according to the
sensitivity of the poems and the beauty of the writer's
handwriting (calligraphy).
WAKA

• Waka or Yamato uta, is a genre of Japanese poetry. Waka


literally means Japanese poem in Japanese.
• The word was originally coined during the Heian period to
differentiate native poetry from the kanshi (Chinese poems)
that all educated Japanese people were also familiar with.
TANKA
• The Japanese tanka is a thirty-one-syllable poem
• A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as
“short song," and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7
syllable count form.
HEIAN PERIOD

• The tales, romances, and diaries of women became the classics


of the literature, and the favored poetic form of this age lasted
for the next thousand years.
HEIAN PERIOD

• In his travel journal Tosa Nikki [Tosa diary] (936), the poet Ki no
Tsurayuki assumed a female persona in order to write in
Japanese.
• Much Heian literature of note was written by aristocratic
women, foremost among whom was Murasaki Shikibu (Lady
Murasaki). Her Genji monogatari [tale of Genji] (early 11th
cent.) is ranked with the world's greatest novels.
HEIAN PERIOD
• Sei Shonagon, another contemporary court lady, wrote
Makura no soshi [the pillow book], a compilation of
miscellaneous notes and reflections that provides an
excellent portrait of Heian aristocratic life, with its
emphasis on elegance—always an important element of
the Japanese aesthetic.
• Ki no Tsurayuki was the leading spirit in the compilation of
the Kokinwakashu [collection of ancient and modern
verse], the first imperial anthology of Japanese poetry.
HEIAN PERIOD
• The Japanese have always esteemed poetry as
the highest of literary arts, and poets
regarded inclusion in a poetry anthology as a
supreme honor.
EXAMP
LES
L
PERIOD
L
PERIOD
OF JAPANESE LITERATURE
ANY IDEA?
MEDIEVAL PERIOD
In the subsequent medieval period (c.1200–1600), themes and
concerns central to the newly ascendant warrior class took
expression in such works as the Heike monogatari [tale of the
Heike], an epic account of the struggle between two great clans
that ended the Heian period.
MEDIEVAL PERIOD
• Medieval poetry and prose is colored by Buddhist
thought.
• Buddhist tale literature, ranging from collections of
short didactic lessons to lengthy narratives, was
also widely produced.
MEDIEVAL PERIOD

• The most famous of these, the late Heian Konjaku


monogatari shû [tales from past and present],
consists of over 1,200 stories of tremendous variety
and scope.
MEDIEVAL PERIOD

• The medieval period witnessed the development of


noh, a serious dramatic form combining dance,
music, chanting, and mime, and kyogen, short
comedies performed in interludes between noh
plays.
MEDIEVAL PERIOD
• The greatest writers of noh plays were Kanami
Kiyotsugu (1333–84) and his son Zeami Motokiyo
(1363–1443), who developed the noh from its primitive
origins to the highly purified and rigorous art form that
later influenced such Western poets as W. B. Yeats and
Ezra Pound.
MEDIEVAL PERIOD
• The production of the tanka continued undiminished,
renga, a linked verse form governed by elaborate
conventions, composed by single or multiple poets,
became popular in the latter half of the medieval period.
• A renga consists of at least two ku or stanzas. The opening
stanza of the renga, called the hokku became the basis for
the modern haiku form of poetry.
EDO ERA
EDO ERA
• Otogi-zoshi, short prose fiction popular among a
range of social classes, anticipated the broadening
social base of literature that developed with the
establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603.
EDO ERA
The Tokugawa Shogunate, also known as the
Tokugawa Bakufu and the Edo Bakufu, was the last
feudal Japanese military government, which existed
between 1600 and 1868.
EDO ERA
Early Edo prose literature encompassed a diverse
range of subjects: didactic tracts, travel guides,
essays, satires, and picaresque fiction.
EDO ERA
Ihara Saikaku was the foremost master of this last
form; his novel Koshoku ichidai onna [the life of an
amorous woman] is an ironic look at a world of
pleasure and eroticism.
EDO ERA
The literary tastes of the bourgeoisie also contributed
to the development of the kabuki and puppet (joruri;
also known as bunraku) theaters.
EDO ERA
Plays by dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–
1724), originally written for the puppet theater but
adapted into kabuki performance as well, are
important in world literature as the first mature
tragedies written about the common man.
EDO ERA
Matsuo Basho, regarded as the
greatest of haiku poets, brought the
developing haiku, a 17-syllable poem,
into full flower.
WESTERN
INFLUENC
E
WESTERN INFLUENCE
After the dramatic opening of Japan to the West
in 1858, the flood of translations from Western
literature that followed induced the Japanese to
give prose fiction a new direction and
psychological realism.
WESTERN INFLUENCE
Tsubouchi Shoyo (1859–1935) had a profound
effect on the modern Japanese novel with his
critical study Shosetsu-shinzui [the essence of the
novel] (1885), in which he urged the use of
colloquial speech rather than the rarefied literary
language used by previous writers.
WESTERN INFLUENCE

Ukigumo [the drifting cloud] (1887–89), by


Futabatei Shimei (1864–1909), was the first novel
written in colloquial language.
WESTERN INFLUENCE

The "I novel," a type of personal semifictitious


autobiography, was dominant for a time,
followed by naturalist and proletarian novels
WESTERN INFLUENCE

Japanese literature suffered a slump during


World War II, when the government censored
literary expression it considered contrary to the
interests of the state.
WESTERN INFLUENCE

Nagai Kafu (1870–1959), with his talent for


verbal portraiture, nevertheless remained a
popular figure during this time.
POSTWAR
LITERATU
RE
POSTWAR LITERATURE

The immense public demand for fiction in


postwar Japan has been fed by the prolific
output of its writers.
POSTWAR LITERATURE
Yasunari Kawabata, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in
1968, has been praised for the delicate aesthetic sensibility
of his novels.
Junichiro Tanizaki, Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe, Fumiko Enchi,
Shusaku Endo, Sawako Ariyoshi, and Kenzaburo Oe, who
won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994, are just a few of
the modern Japanese writers who have attracted
international admiration.
POSTWAR LITERATURE

Akiko Yosano is known for the lushness and


eroticism of her tanka
Sakutaro Hagiwara (1886–1942), for his deft
incorporation of symbolism into the lyric mode
POSTWAR LITERATURE
Akiko Yosano is known for the lushness and
eroticism of her tanka
Sakutaro Hagiwara (1886–1942), for his deft
incorporation of symbolism into the lyric mode
Kotaro Takamura, for his free verse on a range of
subjects.
POSTWAR LITERATURE
In modern drama, playwright Junji Kinoshita (1914)
borrowed elements from the Japanese folk tradition.
Makoto Sato (1943), and others pioneered
underground theater in the late 1960s.
Although modern Japanese poetry and drama have not
received as much attention from the West as have novels and
short stories, Japanese literature is recognized as a major
branch of world literature, and most major works are
available in English translation.