By Shuichi Kato (auth.)
Shuichi Kato's two-volume background of eastern literature is outstanding for its severe and comparative grab in addition to for its ancient scholarship. it's also a special contribution to the topic insofar because it contains the huge unfold of kambun (classic chinese language) literature written via jap authors. by way of relocating past the dialogue of literary types and elegance into the social history which has formed the works, Professor Kato presents the 1st genuine historical past of jap literature in its context; in reality, given the significance of literature in jap cultural historical past quite often, Professor Kato's paintings may both be considered as a research of Japan's highbrow heritage via literature.
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Extra info for A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years
Professional writers became so integrated into their bundan that they knew nothing of what went on in the outside world. An author who is thoroughly integrated into society cannot truly criticize that society's system of values, nor, through criticism, can he transcend those values, but taking those given values as a basis, he is at least able to refine his perception of them. Sei Shonagon, for example, did not in any sense transcend the court society of the Heian period, but she did succeed in portraying its trivialities with remarkable insight.
Also the fact that some of the vocabulary which suggests the existence of bureaucracy is used in the Constitution does not prove it could not have been written before the Reforms. It is not clear who wrote the 'Constitution'; nor is it clear whether it was written at the beginning of the seventh century or at the end of the seventh century, but there is no room for doubt that the work summarizes the ideology of the Taika Reforms. This is the impor- THE AGE OF THE MANYOSHU 31 tant point and whether the work was in existence before those reforms or not is not of great consequence.
Her tradition is still alive in modern Japanese literature and reflects the peculiarities of the general structure of Japanese society. 5. THE JAPANESE WORLD-VIEW Historical transformations in the Japanese world-view have been characterized not so much by the infiltration of various foreign thought systems as by an obstinate clinging to an indigenous attitude and over and over again imparting a Japanese flavour to those systems. The most representative examples of foreign thought systems to have influenced the Japanese are to be found in Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity and Marx- INTRODUCTION 19 ism.