ASIA212Varley

In addition to dances of this sort the okuni troupe

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Unformatted text preview: n selecting a high-class courtesan. Sometimes they will wait until a passer-by appears with a torch, sometimes they will conduct the woman to the lantern of a guard box—in either case they scrutinize her closely, and nowadays, even when it is only a matter of hasty diversion, a woman who is old or ugly is promptly turned down. “For a thousand men who see, there are a thousand blind.” So the saying goes; but on that night, alas, I did not meet a single one who was blind! Finally dawn began to appear: first the eight bells rang out, then seven. Aroused by their sound, the pack-horse drivers set forth with a clatter in the early-morning light. Yet I persisted in walking the streets, until the hour when the blacksmith and the bean-curd dealer opened their shutters. But no doubt my appearance and demeanour were not suited to this calling, for during the entire time not a single man solicited my favours. I resolved, then, that this would be my last effort in the Floating World at plying the lustful trade, and I gave it up for once and all.18 186 The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture Saikaku’s two great themes were love and money, and in his townsman books, written mostly after his erotic studies, he examined the chònin ethic of working hard, being clever, and becoming a financial success. The Eternal Storehouse of Japan (Nihon Eitaigura), a collection of stories on the making and losing of for tunes, is perhaps his most celebrated work in this category. Yet, in the same way that he shifted in his erotic works from the romanticization of love to a Defoe-like recounting of the corrupting effect of sexual passion in The Life of an Amorous Woman, Saikaku turned his attention in his later townsman writings to the life of the middle- and lower-class merchant, which was generally one of unceasing drudgery and the struggle to keep one step ahead of the bill collector. We observed earlier in this chapter the great emphasis placed on humanism in the Neo-Confucian tradition. But it is important also to note that the...
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