The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays

Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century

Edited and translated by Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays

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Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231167710

560 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $42.00£34.95

Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231167703

560 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $120.00£99.95

Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231537551

560 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $41.99£34.95

The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays

Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century

Edited and translated by Steven D. Carter

Columbia University Press

A court lady of the Heian era, an early modern philologist, a novelist of the Meiji period, and a physicist at Tokyo University. What do they have in common, besides being Japanese? They all wrote zuihitsu—a uniquely Japanese literary genre encompassing features of the nonfiction or personal essay and miscellaneous musings. For sheer range of subject matter and breadth of perspective, the zuihitsu is unrivaled in the Japanese literary tradition, which may explain why few examples have been translated into English.

The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays presents a representative selection of more than one hundred zuihitsu from a range of historical periods written by close to fifty authors—from well-known figures, such as Matsuo Basho, Natsume Soseki, and Koda Aya, to such writers as Tachibana Nankei and Dekune Tatsuro, whose works appear here for the first time in English. Writers speak on the experience of coming down with a cold, the aesthetics of tea, the physiology and psychology of laughter, the demands of old age, standards of morality, the way to raise children, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the thoughts that accompany sleeplessness, the anxiety of undergoing surgery, and the unexpected benefits of training a myna bird to say "Thank you." These essays also provide moving descriptions of snowy landscapes, foggy London, the famous cherry blossoms of Ueno Park, and the appeal of rainy vistas, and relate the joys and troubles of everyone from desperate samurai to filial children to ailing cats.
The focused ramble of the traditional Japanese essay format called zuihitsu (literally, 'following the brush') has appealed to writers of both genders, all ages, and every class in Japanese society. Highly personal, these essays contain dollops of philosophy, odd anecdotes, quiet reflection, and pronouncements on taste. In running alongside the main tracks of Japanese literature, this broad collection of zuihitsu brims with idiosyncratic interest. Liza Dalby, author of The Tale of Murasaki and East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir Through the Seasons
Savor a copy of The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays, and take a contemplative walk through the Japanese mind, full of poetic turns and pithy longings, ribald humor and lofty aspirations. Kris Kosaka, The Japan Times
Rich and highly enjoyable.... This evocative selection serves both as an excellent introduction to the genre for the English-speaking world and as a reminder that, no matter how distant or seemingly different the society, people's individual struggles, aspirations and aesthetics transcend their own times. Morgan Giles, Times Literary Supplement
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I. Beginnings
1. The Pillow Book, by Sei Shonagon
2. Essays in Idleness, by Yoshida no Kenko
Part II. The Late Medieval Era
3. Conversations with Shotetsu, by Shotetsu
4. "To Unify the Nation and Restore Civil Society", by Ichijo Kaneyoshi
5. "Cottage of Dreams" and "Three Loves", by Shohaku
6. A Tenbun Miscellany, by The Fujiwara Lay Monk
Part III. The Edo Period
7. Laughs to Keep You Awake, by Anrakuan Sakuden
8. "On Ohara", by Kinoshita Choshoshi
9. Haikai Prose, by Matsuo Basho
10. Amusements, by Amenomori Hoshu
11. Window Musings, by Matsuzaki Kanran
12. A Miscellany of Stories, by Morita Morimasa
13. Chats with Myself, by Dazai Shundai
14. Jeweled Comb Basket, by Motoori Norinaga
15. Idle Chats Beneath a Northern Window, by Tachibana Nankei
16. Blossoms and the Moon, by Matsudaira Sadanobu
17. Year by Year: A Miscellany, by Ishiwara Masaakira
18. Behind the Koto, by Murata Harumi
19. Shunparo's Jottings, by Shiba Kokan
20. Unusual People of the Modern Age and Kanden's Crop of Jottings, by Ban Kokei
21. Hoary Stories, by Tadano Makuzu
22. Haikai Prose, by Natsume Seibi
23. Clouds of Floating Grasses
Part IV. The Modern Period
24. Autumn Ensemble, by Higuchi Ichiyo
25. Short Works from Long Days, by Natsume Soseki
26. "Snow", by Tokutomi Roka
27. "Desk", by Tayama Katai
28. "Fireworks", by Nagai Kafu
29. "Laughter", by Terada Torahiko
30. "Various Thoughts on the Great Kanto Earthquake" and "My Moral Precepts for Everyday Life", by Kikuchi Kan
31. "Master Hyakken's Idle Fantasies," "Bumpy Road," and "A Long Fence", by Uchida Hyakken
32. "The Image of an Author", by Dazai Osamu
33. "Baby Sparrow," "Turtledoves," and "Morning Glories", by Shiga Naoya
34. Esprit and Humor, by Kawamori Yoshizo
35. "Sleepless Nights" and "A Bed for My Books", by Osaragi Jiro
36. "On Being Down with a Cold", by Kawakami Tetsutaro
37. "The Road", by Shono Junzo
38. "Kitchen," "Raindrops," and "A Memento of the Season", by Koda Aya
39. "On Surgery" and "Rainy Day", by Kono Taeko
40. "Looking for Gloves", by Mukoda Kuniko
41. One, We Count, Then . . . , by Takenishi Hiroko
42. Sunday Musings, by Hiraiwa Yumie
43. Not Much of a Book, but Please... and Just Be Sure You're Not a Bother to Anyone, by Dekune Tatsuro
44. "Myna Bird", by Kizaki Satoko
45. "Concerning the Order of Culture", by Shiroyama Saburo
46. "On Zuihitsu", by Sakai Junko

Winner, 2015 2015-2016 Japan-United States Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature

About the Author

Steven D. Carter is Yamato Ichihashi Chair in Japanese History and Civilization at Stanford University. His numerous books include Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Basho, Unforgotten Dreams: Poems by the Zen Monk Shotetsu, and Waiting for the Wind: Thirty-Six Poets of Japan's Late Medieval Age.