Ancient Japanese Literature- A Critical Survey

Ancient Japanese Literature- A Critical Survey

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Book Specification

Item Code: AZE593
Author: Anita Khanna
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 9788176462563
Pages: 244
Other Details 9.00x600
Weight 420 gm

Book Description

About the Book
Ancient Japanese Literature: A Critical Survey is a comprehensive work on the history of the Japanese literature since its inception. It covers the developments in ten chapters. The major trends, works and authors of each period are discussed with an overview of the developments and various other factors that contributed to it. It presents the woof and weft of ancient Japanese literature in a concise manner. The official compilations of Kojiki, Nihongi and the Imperial Waka Anthologies represent one aspect of it and the anthology of Manyōshū as well as the fictional works of Monogatari represent yet another aspect.

About the Author
Anita Khanna (b. 1953) had a stint as a Mombusho and Japan Foundation scholar at Osaka University in Japan where she worked on Japanese literature. for two years. She pursued her Ph.D. From Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Japanese literature has been her forte, which took her back to Japan to the school of letters at Osaka University. Subsequently she worked on the juvenile literature of Meiji and Taisho period at the International Institute of Juvenile Literature in Japan and presented a research paper in their research journal.

She wrote her first book The Jataka Stories in Japan, that traced the development of the Indian motifs adapted in Japanese literature. She has also authored Some Japanese Stories and Stories of Buddha.

Currently she is based at the Jawarharlal Nehru University teaching Japanese as an Associate Professor at the School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies.

Dr. Anita Khanna is Associate Professor in Japanese in the Centre of Japanese and North-east Asian Studies: in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her earlier works "Stories from Japan" and "The Jataka Stories In Japan" have been well received by the lovers of Japanese classical literature. The present work "Ancient Japanese Literature: A Critical Survey" is a pioneer work in India and is the result of her long research and teaching experience.

Japanese literature has many peculiarities. Japanese borrowed ideographic script from China and modified it to suit their language. The earlier written literature in Japan is available in Chinese ideographic characters only. Later, the Japanese developed their own phonetic Kana scripts called Hiragana and Katakana but they did not abandon the use of ideographic script that had been deeply rooted in the Japanese writing system. Today, all the three scripts are needed together to read or write even a simple Japanese sentence. The earlier writings of Japan are not the works of any individual author: rather they are collected works compiled under the imperial patronage. The prose and poetry developed simultaneously from the very early times. Epic poetry is not written in Japan but it has developed some smallest poetic forms in the world known as Tanka' and 'Haiku' consisting of 31 and 17 syllables respectively. However, we find Great epic-like prose narratives known as Monogatari, embedded with Tanka poems here and there, written during 10th-13th centuries.

With the growing popularity of Japanese language in the recent years, the awareness and interest in Japan and its culture is on the increase. Therefore an overview of the literary tradition will certainly complement it. The ancient Japanese Literature written in the classical Japanese is not simple o comprehend even for a student to at an advanced stage of learning of Japanese language. With such a paradox in mind this book is a humble attempt to present the various developments in the ancient Japanese literature. The works and authors are introduced against the backdrop of socio-political developments. The objective is to develop the interest of the reader in Japanese literature and to provide an insight. The scope of this work is limited to the ancient period in order to do justice to such an important era and to highlight its fundamental features for a deeper understanding of its various hues and colors.

In my experience of teaching the history of Japanese literature from the ancient to the modern period I strongly felt that an understanding of the ancient work helps tremendously in grasping the deeper insights into the literature particularly the mindset and the ways of the people.

I take this opportunity to thank my family, colleagues and especially to the students without whose motivation and encouragement this work would not have been possible. Finally a word of special thanks goes to Mrs Chandan who after going through the whole manuscript brought it out in the present format.

Every civilization is likely to have the elements of imaginative creation in some shape or the other. Initially these are present in the oral form and transmitted through word of mouth by way of hymns and prayers. myths. legends and folklore that are codified at some later point of time. Hence, in the absence of any written records, this information handed down orally from parents to the children, in other words from one generation to the other, loses its authenticity.

Another characteristic of such imaginative creation is that it is composed usually in the verse form, which possibly could be attributed to the process of its oral transmission. Thus most creative works of the ancient period are in epic forms of poetry rather than in prose. The subject matter however remains the same i.e., the hymns, prayers, myths and legends.

In the case of Japan too, the seeds of such creation are found in the oral tradition and in lyrical forms. It is in the form of Shinto prayers sung in the native Yamato language that lacked a script. Yamato is the old name for Japan and the Yamato language simply refers to the language spoken by the people in Yamato region.

Shinto, the ancient native religion of Japan, was based on the practices of animism or nature worship. Just like any other agricultural society, in Japan to the awe of natural forces and their appeasement preoccupied the minds of the people.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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