Download Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community by Susan L. Burns PDF

By Susan L. Burns

Exploring the emergence and evolution of theories of nationhood that remain evoked in present-day Japan, Susan L. Burns offers an in depth exam ofthe late-eighteenth-century highbrow circulation kokugaku, this means that "the learn of our country.”

Departing from past stories of kokugaku that curious about intellectuals whose paintings has been valorized by way of sleek students, Burns seeks to recuperate the a number of methods "Japan" as social and cultural id started to be imagined sooner than modernity.Central to Burns's research is Motoori Norinaga’s Kojikiden, arguably an important highbrow paintings of Japan's early glossy interval. Burns situates the Kojikiden as one in a chain of makes an attempt to investigate and interpret the mythohistories courting from the early 8th century, the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Norinaga observed those texts as keys to an unique, actual, and idyllic Japan that existed earlier than being tainted by means of "flawed" overseas impacts, particularly Confucianism and Buddhism.

Hailed within the 19th century because the begetter of a brand new nationwide cognizance, Norinaga's Kojikiden was once later condemned through a few as a resource of Japan's twentieth-century descent into militarism, battle, and defeat. Burns seems to be intensive at 3 kokugaku writers—Ueda Akinari, Fujitani Mitsue, and Tachibana Moribe—who contested Norinaga's interpretations and produced competing readings of the mythohistories that provided new theories of group because the foundation for jap social and cultural identification.

Though relegated to the footnotes by means of a later iteration of students, those writers have been fairly influential of their day, and by way of improving their arguments, Burns unearths kokugaku as a posh debate—involving heritage, language, and subjectivity—with repercussions extending good into the fashionable period.

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Extra info for Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)

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7 For example, Ansai’s Jindai no maki fūyōshū (Wind and Leaves Collection of the Divine Age Chapters), Watarai Nobuyoshi’s Jindaikan kōjutsushō (Oral Transmissions on the Divine Age Chapters), and Yoshikawa Koretaru’s Jindaikan kaden monjo (Documents on the Received Understanding of the Divine Age Chapters) were all written by relying on the printed Nihon shoki. Not surprisingly perhaps, these new readings of the Nihon shoki were profoundly influenced by Neo-Confucianism, the dominant intellectual paradigm of the seventeenth century.

Early Japanese works were subject to the same historicizing impulse as scholars such as Keichū, Kada no Azumamaro, and Kamo no Mabuchi began to question whether the early Japanese works did in fact exemplify Confucian norms, with the result that the analysis of the language of the text became implicated in attempts to think beyond Confucianism. The focus of readers throughout the Tokugawa period was the Divine Age section that begins with the formation of the cosmos and ends with the birth of a child who becomes Jinmu, the mythical first emperor of Japan.

The preface to the Kojiki dates it to 712, and the Nihon shoki was compiled in 720, but in spite of the mere eight years that separate them, the form of the two texts is very different. While the Kojiki presents a more or less unitary narrative, the Nihon shoki brings together a number of variant forms of the story of Japan’s mythic past. One of these is privileged as the so-called honden or ‘‘main narrative,’’ but each section of the honden is followed by one or more variant versions (issho) of the story.

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