ASIA212Varley

The most distinctive feature of this work as of all

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Unformatted text preview: n used loosely through much of Japanese history for a wide variety of writings, from purely fictional prose to quasi-historical records. In its earliest usage, however, monogatari meant certain supernatural or fantastic tales that derived both from oral folk legends and from Buddhist miracle stories written in Chinese. The oldest extant monogatari of this type is The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (Taketori Monogatari), dating from the late ninth or tenth century. It is the story of an old man who finds a princess in a piece of bamboo. The princess, upon growing into comely maidenhood, tantalizes various suitors by refusing to marry them unless they perform hopelessly difficult deeds. Finally, when she is embarrassingly faced with the amorous advances of the emperor himself, the princess flies away to the moon. The second kind of incipient Heian prose writing was the private diary. 62 The Court at Its Zenith Public diaries or journals, written in Chinese, had been kept in Japan since at least Nara times; but the private diary, if we think of it as an accounting of daily events expressed in an intimate and personal mode, could not truly be undertaken until the development of kana enabled would-be diarists to write in the vernacular of their age. The earliest private diary that we have is the Tosa Diary (Tosa Nikki) of Ki no Tsurayuki. Written about 935, it recounts Tsurayuki’s journey by boat to the capital from the province of Tosa, where he had just concluded a term as governor. The most distinctive feature of this work, as of all literary or artistic diaries of the Heian period, is the inclusion of a large number of poems. Many entries in the Tosa Diary, in fact, consist merely of a poem or two with some brief comments about the circumstances that inspired composition. For example: Eleventh day: After a little rain the skies cleared. Continuing upriver, we noticed a line of hills converging on the eastern bank. When we learned that this is the Yawata Hachiman Shrine, there was great rejoicing and we humbly abased ourselves in t...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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