Izumi Shikibu Criticism - Essay

Amy Lowell (essay date 1920)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Court Ladies of Old Japan, translated by Annie Shipley Omori and Kochi Doi, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920, pp. xi-xxxiii.

[In the following essay, Lowell provides historical perspective for the study of court ladies' diaries and briefly compares Izumi Shikibu's diary, Murasaki Shikibu's diary, and the Sarashina Diary.]

The Japanese have a convenient method of calling their historical periods by the names of the places which were the seats of government while they lasted. The first of these epochs of real importance is the Nara Period, which began A.D. 710 and endured until 794; all before that may be classed as archaic. Previous to the Nara...

(The entire section is 5974 words.)

Edwin A. Cranston (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Izumi Shikibu Diary: A Romance of the Heian Court, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969, pp. 3-125.

[In the following excerpt, Cranston offers background on early Japanese court literature (including the different varieties of nikki and their position relative to other genres of literature), and discusses the work of Izumi in the context of her predecessors and her peers.]

… Description

The Izumi Shikibu nikki110 is a work in one kan purporting to describe the beginning of Izumi's relationship with Prince Atsumichi. It is fairly short, occupying forty-six...

(The entire section is 30204 words.)

Earl Miner (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Japanese Poetic Diaries, University of California Press, 1969, pp. 1-56.

[In the following excerpt, Miner discusses some theories of authorship of The Diary of Izumi Shikibu, its characterizations, shifting narrative point of view, and unsatisfying ending.]

… In 1003 Izumi Shikibu entered into an affair with a prince of the blood, Atsumichi. As the journey had been the subject of the earlier diary, the love affair is that of the later. Instead of a representative tragedy of maternal love, we have a depiction of the psychology and romance of courtly love. So much is clear at once, but for many other features of The Diary of Izumi...

(The entire section is 3563 words.)

Edwin A. Cranston (essay date 1970)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Poetry of Izumi Shikibu," Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. XXV, No. 1-2, 1970, pp. 3-125.

[In the following excerpt, Cranston examines many of Izumi's poems, discussing her techniques, choice of themes, and imagery.]

The Heian poetess Izumi Shikibu has left a collection of over 1500 tanka and a reputation for genius, passion, and piety. She is also the heroine of what appears to be a fictionalized memoir, the Izumi Shikibu nikki, as well as of several legends, noh plays, otogizoshi, and temple histories. She lived in an age of memorable women, and her name is commonly mentioned in the same breath with those of her famous contemporaries Sei...

(The entire section is 3187 words.)

Janet A. Walker (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Poetic Ideal and Fictional Reality in the Izumi Shikibu nikki," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1, 1977, pp. 135-82.

[In the following excerpt, Walker analyzes the structure of the Izumi Shikibu Diary, emphasizing its two competing modes of presentationidealism and realism.]

The Izuin Shikibu nikki (Izumi Shikibu Diary, 1008?), one of the masterpieces of Heian prose literature, is a fictional narrative or fictionalized memoir which depicts a love affair between the famous Heian poetess Izumi Shikibu and a certain Prince Atsumichi. In its close observation of the fluctuations of the individual will of the characters, the...

(The entire section is 14625 words.)

Janet A. Walker (essay date 1980)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Izumi Shikibu nikki as a work of Courtly Literature," The Literary Review, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1980, pp. 463-80.

[In the following essay, Walker provides an overview of the Izumi Shikibu nikki and discusses its emphasis on illicit love.]

The culture of tenth- and eleventh-century Japan, the apogee of the Heian period (795-1185), was in every respect a culture of the court.1 It was also an urban culture which saw itself as superior in every way to the rural rice culture that made its existence possible. As in the medieval West, courtlyculture in Japan was the property of a few individuals of noble origin—in Japan, not much more than...

(The entire section is 5256 words.)

Hiroko Odagiri (essay date 1987-88)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Symbolic Imagery in the Poetry of Izumi Shikibu: Parallels with French Symbolism," Tamkang Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 1,2,3,4, Autumn 1987-Summer 1988, pp. 217-26.

[In the following essay, Odagiri examines Izumi's use of symbolic images in her poetry and finds certain parallels with that of Charles Baudelaire.]

The lyrical poet Yosano Akiko (1878-1942), who is one of the representative Tanka poets in modern Japan, in her critical work "Akiko's Koten Kanshô" ("Akiko's View of Classics"), comments on the symbolic character of the Japanese court poetry1 (waka). She explains that symbolism is a technique in which one word has a central meaning and...

(The entire section is 3191 words.)