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Medieval World Reflected in Japanese Literature: Examples of Changes and Innovations in Literature (Poetry and Prose)

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One of the main reasons that studying Japanese literature from different time periods is so important is due to the fact that it provides the reader with an insight into the time around which it was written. Direct accounts of events are always a good source for learning about history. At the same time, cultural tales can be of the exact same value as the conventional history. The accounts of events might be embellished but it is in the way that the events are embellished that the reader is able to truly gain an insight into what Japan was like in the past. The medieval world is greatly reflected in Japanese literature. A great example of how the medieval world is reflected in Japanese literature is the Tsurezuregusa. The Tsurezuregusa was written in the genre of a zuihitsu by Yoshida Kenko (1283 – 1352). It is one of the most admired examples of Japanese prose and in the genre of zuihitsu, it is considered a masterpiece. The contents of the Tsurezuregusa are “243 entries range in length from a single sentence to a few pages and take many forms: reminiscences, anecdotes (often of an admonitory nature), meditations, judgments, notes and queries on factual matters, dreamlike fragments of narrative, descriptions, and emotional exclamations. The order, in which they are arranged, though seemingly random, involves associative principles like those used in the collections of tales known as setsuwa and in poetry anthologies” (Encyclopedia handout 12). In the writings, the author is much more pessimistic about the future then writers in the past had been and offers deep philosophical ideas about change. This is an example of how the time period is reflected through the writing. People of the time were becoming more philosophic... ... middle of paper ... ...hology of Japanese Literature. 'Comp' . Donald Keene. New York: Grove Press, 1955. Print. Ki, Tsurayuki. "The Tosa Diary." Anthology of Japanese Literature. 'Comp' . Donald Keene. New York: Glove Press, 1955. Print. Kamo, Choumei. "An Account of my Hut." Anthology of Japanese Literature. 'Comp' . Donald Keene. New York: Grove Press, 1955. Print. Shikibu, Murasaki, and Royall Tyler. The Tale of Genji. Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. Shonagon, Sei. "The Pillow Book." Anthology of Japanese Literature. 'Comp' . Donald Keene. New York: Grove Press, 1955. Print. Yoshida, Kenkou. "Essays in Idleness." Anthology of Japanese Literature. 'Comp' . Donald Keene. New York: Grove Press, 1955. Print. Encyclopedia of Japan. “Handout 12 – Heike, Ujishūi, Hōjōki and Tsurezuregusa” 2011. Keene, Donald. “Anthology of Japanese Literature”. New York, 1955.
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