How to Read a Japanese Poem

Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

How to Read a Japanese Poem

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Pub Date: February 2019

ISBN: 9780231186834

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: February 2019

ISBN: 9780231186827

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: February 2019

ISBN: 9780231546850

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

How to Read a Japanese Poem

Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

How to Read a Japanese Poem offers a comprehensive approach to making sense of traditional Japanese poetry of all genres and periods. Steven D. Carter explains to Anglophone students the methods of composition and literary interpretation used by Japanese poets, scholars, and critics from ancient times to the present, and adds commentary that will assist the modern reader.

How to Read a Japanese Poem presents readings of poems by major figures such as Saigyō and Bashō as well as lesser known poets, with nearly two hundred examples that encompass all genres of Japanese poetry. The book gives attention to well-known forms such as haikai or haiku, as well as ancient songs, comic poems, and linked verse. Each chapter provides examples of a genre in chronological order, followed by notes about authorship and other contextual details, including the time of composition, physical setting, and social occasion. The commentaries focus on a central feature of Japanese poetic discourse: that poems are often occasional, written in specific situations, and are best read in light of their milieu. Carter elucidates key concepts useful in examining Japanese poetics as well as the technical vocabulary of Japanese poetic discourse, familiarizing students with critical terms and concepts. An appendix offers succinct definitions of technical terms and essays on aesthetic ideals and devices.
This book is a masterful tour of Japanese poetry from the earliest times to the late nineteenth century. The range of knowledge is astonishing, and there are very few people—perhaps no one—who could attempt this kind of book except for the author. Torquil Duthie, University of California, Los Angeles

About the Author

Steven D. Carter is Yamato Ichihashi Chair in Japanese History and Civilization, emeritus, at Stanford University. His Columbia University Press books include Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Bashō (2011) and The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century (2014).