Rabinovitch, Judith N.
Dr. Judith N. Rabinovitch received her PhD from Harvard University. She is currently Karashima Tsukasa Professor of Japanese Language and Culture, The University of Montana. She is the author of Shomonki: The Story of Masakado's Rebellion (Tokyo, 1985) and many articles, reviews, and encyclopedia entries.1997 0-7734-8560-0
This anthology comprises annotated translations of four hundred kanshi
(poems written in Chinese) by one hundred of the most renowned Japanese poets of the Edo Period (1603-1868). The largest ever such collection, this work also provides biographies for each of the poets as well as commentaries on the verses. The annotations are designed to illuminate the aesthetics and values of Edo society, enabling even the lay reader to appreciate the historical and philosophical milieu in which this genre flourised. The composition of Chinese poetry in Japan dates back to around the seventh century. During the Edo period in particular, it was central to the literary lives of Japanese from all sectors of society and remained popular until the early twentieth century. The Edo period, a time of enforced national isolation from the rest of the world, paradoxically represents the high-water mark for Chinese literary composition in Japan. Chinese studies flourished, and hundreds of thousands of kanshi
were written and recorded during these centuries.
Edo popular culture has been studied extensively in the West and is well-known to us through the puppet theater, kabuki drama, haiku poetry, and other vernacular genres. However comparatively little research has been done on kanshi
, even though the genre was extremely popular during the Edo period, particularly among Confucian scholar-officials, Buddhist priests, and educated members of the townsman class. It is hoped that this work will bring kanshi
more into the mainstream of Japanese studies into the consciousness of modern readers in the Western world.