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Traditions and Tendencies: A Reply to Carine Defoort

Traditions and Tendencies: A Reply to Carine Defoort Rein Raud In 1899 William Aston, a British diplomat, published the first overall history of Japanese literature in English. In it, Japanese poetry is characterized as follows: Narrow in its scope and resources, it is chiefly remarkable for its limitations--for what it has not, rather than what it has. . . . Indeed, narrative poems of any kind are short and very few, the only ones which I have met with being two or three ballads of a sentimental cast. Didactic, philosophical, political and satirical poems are also conspicuously absent. The Japanese muse does not meddle with such subjects, and it is doubtful whether, if it did, the native Pegasus possesses sufficient staying power for them to be dealt with adequately. ([1899] 1977, p. 24) Nevertheless, Aston took it for granted that Japan had a literature and that one part of it was poetry, even if it did not quite live up to his expectations. Timothy Reiss, writing a century later, was not so generous: he argued that literature in the proper (i.e., his) sense of the word appeared in Europe in the seventeenth century ``as part of a social solution to a crisis viewed explicitly at the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Traditions and Tendencies: A Reply to Carine Defoort

Philosophy East and West , Volume 56 (4) – Oct 11, 2006

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
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Copyright © 2006 University of Hawai'i Press.
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1529-1898
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Abstract

Rein Raud In 1899 William Aston, a British diplomat, published the first overall history of Japanese literature in English. In it, Japanese poetry is characterized as follows: Narrow in its scope and resources, it is chiefly remarkable for its limitations--for what it has not, rather than what it has. . . . Indeed, narrative poems of any kind are short and very few, the only ones which I have met with being two or three ballads of a sentimental cast. Didactic, philosophical, political and satirical poems are also conspicuously absent. The Japanese muse does not meddle with such subjects, and it is doubtful whether, if it did, the native Pegasus possesses sufficient staying power for them to be dealt with adequately. ([1899] 1977, p. 24) Nevertheless, Aston took it for granted that Japan had a literature and that one part of it was poetry, even if it did not quite live up to his expectations. Timothy Reiss, writing a century later, was not so generous: he argued that literature in the proper (i.e., his) sense of the word appeared in Europe in the seventeenth century ``as part of a social solution to a crisis viewed explicitly at the

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Oct 11, 2006

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