Wondrous Brutal Fictions

Eight Buddhist Tales from the Early Japanese Puppet Theater

Translated by R. Keller Kimbrough

Columbia University Press

Wondrous Brutal Fictions

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Pub Date: March 2015

ISBN: 9780231146593

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: April 2013

ISBN: 9780231146586

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: April 2013

ISBN: 9780231518338

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

Wondrous Brutal Fictions

Eight Buddhist Tales from the Early Japanese Puppet Theater

Translated by R. Keller Kimbrough

Columbia University Press

Wondrous Brutal Fictions presents eight seminal works from the seventeenth-century Japanese sekkyo and ko-joruri puppet theaters, many translated into English for the first time. Both poignant and disturbing, they range from stories of cruelty and brutality to tales of love, charity, and outstanding filial devotion, representing the best of early Edo-period literary and performance traditions and acting as important precursors to the Bunraku and Kabuki styles of theater.

As works of Buddhist fiction, these texts relate the histories and miracles of particular buddhas, bodhisattvas, and local deities. Many of their protagonists are cultural icons, recognizable through their representation in later works of Japanese drama, fiction, and film. The collection includes such sekkyo "sermon-ballad" classics as Sansho Dayu, Karukaya, and Oguri, as well as the "old joruri" plays Goo-no-hime and Amida's Riven Breast. R. Keller Kimbrough provides a critical introduction to these vibrant performance genres, emphasizing the role of seventeenth-century publishing in their spread. He also details six major sekkyo chanters and their playbooks, filling a crucial scholarly gap in early Edo-period theater. More than fifty reproductions of mostly seventeenth-century woodblock illustrations offer rich, visual foundations for the critical introduction and translated tales. Ideal for students and scholars of medieval and early modern Japanese literature, theater, and Buddhism, this collection provides an unprecedented encounter with popular Buddhist drama and its far-reaching impact on literature and culture.
The tales included in this collection fill a significant gap in our understanding of the intersection of itinerant Buddhist storytelling tradition and the early puppetry in Japanese religion and society. Kimbrough's introduction is informative and his translation is gripping and accessible.... A must read. Jane-Marie Law, Japanese Language and Literature
Kimbrough has been most active as a scholar of medieval religious literature, and his erudition is evident in these excellent translations of the sekkyo classics. William Lee, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
This collection is of great value to theatre history, religious studies, and cultural studies.... [Wondrous Brutal Fictions] should be celebrated for making connections between the performative, the religious, and the textual. Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., Japanese Studies
Acknowledgments
Notes on the Translation
Introduction
Sansho Dayu
Karukaya
Shintokumaru
Oguri
Sayohime
Aigo-no-waka
Amida's Riven Breast
Goo-no-hime
Appendix 1. Major Sekkyo Chanters
Appendix 2. Works in This Volume
Glossary
Bibliography

Read the introduction:

About the Author

R. Keller Kimbrough is an associate professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, Colby College, and the University of Colorado. He is the author of Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way: Izumi Shikibu and the Buddhist Literature of Medieval Japan.