By Shuichi Kato (auth.)

Shuichi Kato's two-volume background of eastern literature is extraordinary for its serious and comparative clutch in addition to for its old scholarship. it's also a distinct contribution to the topic insofar because it accommodates the significant unfold of kambun (classic chinese language) literature written through jap authors. via relocating past the dialogue of literary types and elegance into the social heritage which has formed the works, Professor Kato presents the 1st actual background of eastern literature in its context; actually, given the significance of literature in eastern cultural heritage in most cases, Professor Kato's paintings may perhaps both be seen as a examine of Japan's highbrow historical past via literature.

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Christianity had an influence only in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and from the late nineteenth century onwards, whereas Marxism exerted an influence between the two wars, mostly on the Japanese intelligentsia. Taoism is also worthy of mention as is Western scientific thought from the nineteenth century, but although both these had an undeniable influence on literature, neither presented comprehensive systems for the interpretation of nature, man, society and history as a whole.

These shallower and deeper levels corresponded, as it were, to the public and private domains of the individual's life. Quite usually thorough integration into a group meant that the relationship between the group and its members crossed from the public domain into the private domain, and it was never easy 26 A HISTORY OF JAPANESE LITERATURE for foreign thought to penetrate into the depths of emotional life. Because, however, Japanese society never stagnated, Japanese literature did not cease to develop.

This saying parallels numerous others found in Chinese Confucian literature. The relationship between the ruler and the people as a whole is clearly laid down as are the duties owed by the latter to the former, such as 'loyalty'. As far as the country's officials are concerned, great stress is placed on the harmony which should exist between them and the people. The first article opens with the line, 'Harmony is to be valued', and the final article contains the stricture, 'Weighty matters should not be considered by one person alone; they should be discussed with many people'.

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