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Full title:

World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era, 1600–1867.

New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976. Hardcover, 6.5×9.5″ (17×23.5 cm), 606 + xv pages.

Condition: In d.j. with three slight tears and slight creasing, text and binding mint condition, signed by the author.

Original price: $22.95; this copy: $15 + shipping. Click for ordering info.

This is the first book issued of what would become Donald Keene’s magnum opus, a brilliant 3–4 volume history of all Japanese literature (the number depends on whether you count the two-volume Dawn to the West as one or two “books”). With this volume and the volume of Dawn to the West mentioned in the previous post, one has a nearly complete history of what we call “haiku” as it grew and matured in Japan. (The only thing missing would be the pre-history of the genre, in the linked poetry—classical renga—of the 1300s–1500s, which features in Prof. Keene’s final volume in the series, Seeds in the Heart.)

The opening six chapters of World Within Walls give the history of haikai from the late 15th century, when a more playful style of courtly renga began to emerge, to the full-blown art of Bashô, whom we know today as “the father of haiku”, but who was actually a master of haikai no renga in his own time. Then, after seven chapters devoted to fiction (3), drama (3), and waka poetry, Keene takes up haikai again with chapters titled “Buson and the Haikai Revival” and “Haikai of the Late Tokugawa Period”; the latter mainly deals with Issa. Further excursions into fiction and drama intervene between these and the final three chapters, devoted to “Waka of the Late Tokugawa Period”; “Comic Poetry” dealing with kyoka, the “mad verses” related to waka; and “Poetry and Prose in Chinese”—written by Japanese authors.

Despite its large size and page-count, this book is set in very readable type, with good margins, and forms probably the best single-volume introduction in English to the writers and writings of the Tokugawa Era, the era that includes Bashô, Chiyo, Buson, Issa, and others of the time with whom we may be familiar from the writings of Blyth, Henderson, and others. Thus, it makes a good introduction not only to the haikai poets of this time, but but to contemporary writers and works with which they would have been familiar.

I picked up this copy at a used book store, mainly because of the fact that Donald Keene had signed it for someone (name withheld to protect the guilty!), and it seemed fun to get such a copy. But now, with my earlier copy of the same book all marked up, when I come to part with one, it’s the signed copy that must go.

To Order: If you are interested in purchasing this copy of World Within Walls, e-mail me with name, postal address, and phone number.

Bill

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Full title:

Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era—Poetry, Drama, Criticism. (Note that there is another volume with the same title, only differing at the end, where “Fiction” replaces “Poetry, Drama, Criticism”; that other volume is over 1300 pages long, and is not for sale here.)

New York: Henry Holt, 1984. Paperback, 6×9.25″ (15.5×23.5 mm), 685+xiv pp.

Original price: $19.95; this copy: $10 + shipping. Click for ordering info.

Condition: Solid binding, cover good, faint (pale green) remainder mark on top edge near spine, a few pages dog-eared, a few marginal notes in ink. A good “reader’s copy”. (Note that the notes are mine, mainly in the section “Poetry in Traditional Forms”, and are not terribly intrusive.)

Here one can get a good overview of “haiku”—the word Shiki coined to separate the independent hokku from the linked poetry it originally belonged to. (The separation actually goes back to old renga masters such as Sôgi and Sôchô, and was reinforced by Bashô and many poets of his day in haikai.) Keene’s grasp of the overall situation of Japanese literature and his special affection for the haiku in all its guises inform his writing. He also translates many haiku and tanka by many poets, some well known in the West, others less so.

Keene includes comments on and translations of tanka by poets from Shigene Suzuki (1814–1898 ) to Takashi Okai (b. 1928), touching on many others including such figures as Akiko Yosano (1876–1942), Hakushû Kitahara (1885–1942), Takuboku Ishikawa (1886–1912), Shiki Masaoka (1867–1902), and Mokichi Saitô (1882–1953). He also sets out the major groups of tanka poets and their differing philosophies of tanka composition, including a number whose approach to tanka form was quite radical. (Note that I list the names here in Western order, which accords with the style sheet I’m following here on the Pub generally, but that Keene gives Japanese names in Japanese order, as do most scholars of Japanese literature writing in English.)

Keene then takes up haiku; poets from Eiki Hozumi (1823–1904) to Kin’ichi Sawaki and Tohta Kaneko (both born 1919) are covered, including those well known to us such as Shiki, Santôka Taneda (1882–1940), Hôsai Ozaki (1885–1926), Shûôshi Mizuhara (1892–1981), and Seishi Yamaguchi (b. 1901). Among these poets, he also writes of many others, less well known to the West, such as Raboku Ohashi (1890–1933), citing one of his oft-quoted minimalist haiku, hi e yamu (“I am sick with the sun.”—Keene’s tr., in which “I am” expresses ideas included in the original, but not its words), the essentially deaf poet Kijô Murakami (1865–1938), Sekitei Hara (1886–1951), and Hisajo Sugita (1890–1946), who led many women and men away from Shiki’s dominant and arch-conservative disciple Kyoshi Takahama (1874–1959), and the “Humanist” haiku poets Kusatao Nakamura (1901–1983) and Shûson Katô (b. 1905). The whole passage on haiku is a fine expansion and continuation of the similar treatment given of fewer of these poets in R. H. Blyth’s History of Haiku, volume 2 (1964) and Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku (1976).

As the title of the book suggests, there are also substantial sections given over to poetry in new forms (i.e., “modern poetry”), modern drama, and modern criticism—all reflecting the opening of Japan to Western influence in the late 19th century through well past the middle of the 20th.

To Order: If you are interested in purchasing this copy of Dawn to the West, e-mail me with name, postal address, and phone number.

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