Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari) is traditionally identified as one of the most important Japanese literary texts of the Heian period (794–1185). Since its enshrinement in the classical literary canon as early as the eleventh century, the work has also been the object of intensive study and extensive commentary. Its idiosyncratic form125 loosely connected episodes recounting the life and loves of an anonymous courtierand mysterious authorship have provoked centuries of explication.
Jamie Newhard’s study skillfully combines primary-source research with a theoretically framed analysis, exploring commentaries from the medieval period into the early twentieth century, and situating the text’s critical reception within an evolving historical and social context. By giving a more comprehensive picture of the social networks and scholastic institutions within which literary scholarship developed and circulated, Newhard identifies the ideological, methodological, and literary issues that shaped the commentators’ agendas as the audience for classical literature expanded beyond aristocratic circles to include other social groups. Her approach illuminates how exegesis of Tales of Ise ultimately reflects shifting historical and social assessments that construct, transform, and transmit the literary and cultural value of the work over time.
About the Author
Jamie L. Newhard is Assistant Professor of Japanese at Washington University in St. Louis.
Table of Contents
Tables and Figures xi
Note on Names, Dates, and Periodization xiii
1 Literary Knowledge in Sociohistorical Perspective 1
2 Ise monogatari in Heian and Early Medieval Literary Thought 29
3 Economies of Secrecy: Ise monogatari Commentaries after 1460 63
4 Commentary Commodified: Ise monogatari in Print 117
5 Nativist and Confucian Constructions of Ise monogatari 180
Epilogue: The Birth of the Poem-Tale: Ise monogatari in the Modern Period 232
Appendix 1 Relations among Persons Who Figure in Ise monogatari 239
Appendix 2 Selections from Ise monogatari 240
Character List 271
Works Cited 277