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The Pursuit of Harmony: Poetry and Power in Early Heian Japan

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Pursuit of Harmony: Poetry and Power in Early Heian Japan.pdf | Language: English

"The Heian court of the late ninth and early tenth centuries represents one of the most innovative and influential periods in the history of Japanese poetry. It witnessed the creation of entirely new forms of verse in poetry matches, screen poems, and officially sponsored anthologies, none of which had a precedent in earlier times. At the apex of these phenomena lay compilation of the Kokin wakashu (Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern), whose status as the first imperial anthology of native poetry would make it integral to Japanese court culture for centuries afterward. Despite the enormous historical significance of these new forms of poetry and the marked interest displayed by powerful individuals in patronizing them, however, little sustained attention has been paid to the ties between the practices of producing and performing verse and processes of economic, ideological, political, and social change in this period. This book is intended to address such issues through an investigation of the ways in which different members of the court community deployed poems in the pursuit of power." ―from the Introduction

Gustav Heldt is Assistant Professor of Japanese in the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Virginia. He has published articles on premodern Japanese poetry and prose in the Journal of Asian Studies, Monumenta Nipponica, and the U.S.-Japan Women's Journal.

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Book details

  • PDF | 466 pages
  • Cornell East Asia Program (March 31, 2010)
  • English
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By P. Sean Bramble on September 8, 2009

    This book is not a general introduction to Heian poetry, but a rich analysis of both the poems and the motives that lay behind the legendary poetry matches of the Heian Period. For the purposes of my own studies, one chapter alone ("Household Harmony in Uda's Poetry Matches") was worth every penny I paid; the struggles between retired emperor Uda and the reigning emperor, his son Daigo, make for absolutely fascinating reading. There's much more than that, of course, so if you're looking for an in-depth look at various aspects of the court and its poetry, this book would be the one to get.


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