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The Pleasures of Japanese Literature

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  61 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Considered the Western world's leading interpreter of traditional Japanese culture, Donald Keene now offers an enjoyable introduction to Japanese literature for the general reader. Keene's deep learning enables him to construct an overview as delightful to read as it is informative.
Paperback, 133 pages
Published June 10th 1993 by Columbia University Press (first published 1988)
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GONZA
Aug 21, 2015 GONZA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca
A brief but absolutely interesting excursus in the Japanese literature, poetry and theater ( I finally got what the No theater is all about), totally fascinating.

Un breve excursus nella letteratura, poesia e teatro giapponese (ho finalmente capito di cosa parla il teatro No), assolutamente affascinante.
David Pearce
Oct 20, 2014 David Pearce rated it it was ok
Shelves: collection
I could only really recommend this book to those that want a brief introduction to Japanese literary art and some decent recommendations on further reading. Topics like Japanese poetry can be difficult to relate to an audience that doesn't speak the language, without skill it will come across as a mess. Donald Keene clearly has the skill, but within these brief lectures there's no room for elaboration. The book lacks both Keene's own interpretation of the texts he's discussing, and a wider outli ...more
Oleg Kagan
Nov 26, 2014 Oleg Kagan rated it liked it
Shelves: to-be-reviewed, japan
Circling around reading Donald Keene's Anthology of Japanese Literature I picked up this little book of five lectures on Japanese literature (though Japanese art would be a more apt title). The foremost takeaway from this book is Keene's enthusiasm for Japanese literature. Due to it's length, and the fact that the essays originated as lectures, we do not get the depth of Keene's knowledge on any of the five subjects, instead he gives us a little bit here and there by way of introduction.

In the
...more
A. Fedosia
Mar 15, 2012 A. Fedosia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opens with four colorful illustrations (a scroll with a woman poet; the Tales of Ise; The Tale of Genji; and a scene from Kabuki theater) before discussing Japanese aesthetics, poetry and its uses, fiction, and theater. Aesthetics characterized by irregularity and imperfection, by expensive simplicity and elegance, by perishability especially those stages prior to and after something reaches its peak of perfection.

Poetry, fiction, and theater are distinguished by separate chapters and their con
...more
Maria
Mar 15, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it
Donald Keene is the go-to expert on Japanese literature for English readers. This small book is a good overview of the ways in which Japanese literature differs from Western literature. It provides a brief overview of Japanese poetry, fiction, and theater. For anyone who just wants an overview, this is a good place to start.
Dia
Jan 09, 2011 Dia rated it liked it
Sweet, helpful, and well-worded, but I couldn't help but wish that Keene, a sympathetic expert, had simply said more -- more both about Japan's literary history and about his personal encounters with Japanese poetry, literature, and theater. The first chapter, which delineates the four qualities of Japanese art (suggestion, irregularity, simplicity, and perishability) seems a classic essay unto itself. Could we say of our own culture that there are some finite number of qualities that all our ar ...more
Simon
Oct 28, 2011 Simon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
This book is based on a series of five lectures on the topics:

1. Japanese aesthetics
2. Japanese poetry
3. The uses of Japanese poetry
4. Japanese fiction
5. Japanese theater

It was my first introduction to Donald Keene, a world-renowned authority on Japanese literature (he is the third non-Japanese person to be designated "an individual of distinguished cultural service" by the Japanese government). It was very well written and contained many interesting insights into Japanese literature. Keene limi
...more
Jonathan
Jul 23, 2007 Jonathan rated it liked it
It's a nice, attractive book for your shelf (I have hardbound copy). There are some insights into specific genres of Japanese literature, but the book is a little thin on content, with vast amounts of Japanese literature not even addressed. It reads like a series of pleasant lectures given to an audience that is not especially knowledgeable.
Mark Folse
Jan 08, 2013 Mark Folse rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-novel
A much better book for dipping into Japanese aestherics than the same author's slim Japanese literature (see my separate review of that) but I'm still looking for a good exploration of modern and post-modern novel. This was interesting given my interest in Japanese poetry and art as well as contemporary (and increasingly older Modern) novelists.
Mari
Sep 12, 2011 Mari rated it it was amazing
I don't doubt that any book I read by Donald Keene on Japanese literature or culture is going to be absolutely greatly written and extremely informative!
Motheaten
Feb 20, 2012 Motheaten rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, asian
Does not go in depth, it's discussions touch the surface of Japanese aesthetics, poetry, fiction and theater.
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