Idly Scribbling Rhymers

Poetry, Print, and Community in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Robert Tuck

Columbia University Press

Idly Scribbling Rhymers

Google Preview

Pub Date: July 2018

ISBN: 9780231187343

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: July 2018

ISBN: 9780231547222

320 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Idly Scribbling Rhymers

Poetry, Print, and Community in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Robert Tuck

Columbia University Press

How can literary forms fashion a nation? Though genres such as the novel and newspaper have been credited with shaping a national imagination and a sense of community, during the rapid modernization of the Meiji period, Japanese intellectuals took a striking—but often overlooked—interest in poetry’s ties to national character. In Idly Scribbling Rhymers, Robert Tuck offers a groundbreaking study of the connections among traditional poetic genres, print media, and visions of national community in late nineteenth-century Japan that reveals the fissures within the process of imagining the nation.

Structured around the work of the poet and critic Masaoka Shiki, Idly Scribbling Rhymers considers how poetic genres were read, written, and discussed within the emergent worlds of the newspaper and literary periodical in Meiji Japan. Tuck details attempts to cast each of the three traditional poetic genres of haiku, kanshi, and waka as Japan’s national poetry. He analyzes the nature and boundaries of the concepts of national poetic community that were meant to accompany literary production, showing that Japan’s visions of community were defined by processes of hierarchy and exclusion and deeply divided along lines of social class, gender, and political affiliation. A comprehensive study of nineteenth-century Japanese poetics and print culture, Idly Scribbling Rhymers reveals poetry’s surprising yet fundamental role in emerging forms of media and national consciousness.
Were it simply a high-quality study of Masaoka Shiki, Idly Scribbling Rhymers would still reward careful reading, but it is much more: Tuck provides a broad picture of the fate of all traditional poetic forms in the Meiji period. His erudite and insightful attention to kanshi, valuable on its own, also reveals new aspects of haiku and waka, and he breaks fresh ground with his examination of poetry’s role in the emerging medium of the newspaper.David B. Lurie, Columbia University
Against the well-worn narratives of political instrumentalization or aesthetic innovation, Tuck impresses with a powerful alternative literary history of how poets made Japanese modernity: a riveting story about the virulent anxieties over class distinction, political commentary, new media, and gender identity in Japan’s emerging empire. Richly documented, cleverly argued, and boldly inquisitive, Idly Scribbling Rhymers is an exemplary study of how traditional genres morph under the pressures of modernization.Wiebke Denecke, Boston University
This is an important book that is impressive in its scope, thorough in its research, and very timely. Idly Scribbling Rhymers provides us with a fresh view of the Meiji poetic scene that is both richly detailed and broadly based. Tuck takes readers on a deeply rewarding tour of areas that are all but unknown in Anglophone scholarship.Matthew Fraleigh, Brandeis University
Idly Scribbling Rhymers is the first work in English, and one of very few works in Japanese, to attempt to capture the rich social and historical context of poetic composition in the Meiji period. Tuck manages to wrestle an enormous amount of information into a coherent and useful narrative. This book will remain a standard reference work for years to come.J. Keith Vincent, Boston University
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Climbing the Stairs of Poetry: Kanshi, Print, and Writership in Nineteenth-Century Japan
2. Not the Kind of Poetry Men Write: “Fragrant-Style” Kanshi and Poetic Masculinity in Meiji Japan
3. Clamorous Frogs and Verminous Insects: Nippon and Political Haiku, 1890–1900
4. Shiki’s Plebeian Poetry: Haiku as “Commoner Literature,” 1890–1900
5. The Unmanly Poetry of Our Times: Shiki, Tekkan, and Waka Reform, 1890–1900
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Robert Tuck is assistant professor of modern Japanese literature and culture at Arizona State University.