World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era, 1600--1867

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The Tokugawa family held the shogunate from 1603 to 1867, ruling Japan and keeping the island nation isolated from the rest of the world for more than 250 years. Donald Keene looks within the "walls" of isolation and meticulously chronicles the period's vast literary output, providing both lay readers and scholars with the definitive history of premodern Japanese literature.

World Within Walls spans the age in which Japanese literature began to reach a popular audience—as opposed to the elite aristocratic readers to whom it had previously been confined. Keene comprehensively treats each of the new, popular genres that arose, including haiku, Kabuki, and the witty, urbane prose of the newly ascendant merchant class.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
A work... that is not only exhaustive but always readable and often amusing.
New York Times Book Review
A work . . . that is not only exhaustive but always readable and often amusing.
Keene (Japanese literature, Columbia U.) provides both scholars and lay readers a history of the vast literary production during the 250 years in which the Tokugawa shoguns kept Japan isolated from the rest of the world. Literature began to reach a popular audience during that period, he says, and generated new genres such as haiku, kabuki, and witty urbane prose of the ascendent middle class. He has added a second paragraph to the 1978 original published by Holt, Reinhart, and Winston. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231114677
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/1999
  • Series: History of Japanese Literature Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 606
  • Sales rank: 1,138,165
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of a multivolume history of Japanese literature, of which World Within Walls is the second part, and more than thirty other books, including many translations from Japanese literature. He has received numerous honors in both the United States and Japan, and is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Columbia Edition
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Literature From 1600-1770
1 Haikai Poetry: The Beginnings of Haikai no Renga (Comic Linked Verse) 11
2 Haikai Poetry: Matsunaga Teitoku and the Creation of Haikai Poetry 21
3 Haikai Poetry: Danrin Haikai 40
4 Haikai Poetry: The Transition to Basho 56
5 Haikai Poetry: Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) 71
6 Haikai Poetry: Basho's Disciples 123
7 Fiction: Kana Zoshi 149
8 Fiction: Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693) 167
9 Fiction: Ukiyo Zoshi 216
10 Drama: The Beginnings of Kabuki and Joruri 230
11 Drama: Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725) 244
12 Drama: Joruri after Chikamatsu 275
13 Waka Poetry: Kokugaku and the Waka 300
Pt. 2 Literature from 1770-1867
14 Haikai Poetry: Buson and the Haikai Revival 337
15 Haikai Poetry: Haikai of the Late Tokugawa Period 358
16 Fiction: Ueda Akinari (1734-1809) 371
17 Fiction: Gesaku Fiction 396
18 Drama: Eighteenth-Century Kabuki 438
19 Drama: Nineteenth-Century Kabuki 455
20 Waka Poetry: Waka of the Late Tokugawa Period 477
21 Waka Poetry: Comic Poetry 512
22 Poetry and Prose in Chinese 535
App Summaries of Plays 563
Glossary of Japanese Terms and Certain Japanese and Chinese Names 571
Index 581
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