This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: s the
mecca for publishing and scholarship. The cultural primacy of Edo
established at this time proved lasting, and indeed has been even more
completely asserted in the modern era.
The Bunka-Bunsei epoch was a relatively placid time preceding the
final, crisis decades of the Tokugawa period, when the Western powers
exerted increasing pressure upon and finally succeeded in forcing Japan
to open its doors and enter the modern world. In painting, the epoch
was of course distinguished by men such as Shiba Kòkan, Sharaku, 230 Heterodox Trends Utamaro, Hokusai, and Hiroshige. But in literature there was no such
comparable brilliance. The efforts of late Tokugawa authors were, in
fact, polarized rather sharply into the writing either of “witty” and
“amorous” books (kokkeibon and sharebon) or of historical novels (yomihon). The distinction between the two categories was essentially one of
the overly frothy versus the overly serious, of the pornographic versus
Literature dealing with the floating world of the Tokugawa pleasure
quarters had reached an early level of excellence in the writing of Saikaku. But the subject matter was too narrow in range to be a continuing
source for true artistic inspiration and, with few exceptions, the successors to Saikaku produced distinctly inferior work. The examples of this
sort of work in the Bunka-Bunsei epoch are interesting as social commentaries on contemporary styles and tastes, and particularly on the meaning
of two much-admired qualities of people of fashion in Edo, sui and tsû,
which Sansom has aptly rendered as chic and savoir faire. Otherwise, the
literature of the floating world as observed in its later variants, including
the witty and amorous books, was merely a cheap, salacious type of writing that catered to low and vulgar tastes.
The most commercially successful author of this lighter type of literature in the early nineteenth century was Jippensha Ikku (1765–1831),
who began his career as the writer of puppet plays in Osaka before h...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13