Kabuki Criticism: Overviews - Essay

Peter Arnott (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Arnott, Peter. “The Theatre Suspected.” In The Theatres of Japan, pp. 152-74. London: Macmillan, 1969.

[In the following excerpt, Arnott argues that the structure of Kabuki is distinctly different from that of modern Western drama, as it presents a succession of individual moments in response to the Buddhist idea of impermanence; is self-conscious about the dramatic utility of its elements; reproduces the sentence-pattern of the Japanese language; and mirrors the hopes and fears of its audience through romantic stories.]

The present kabuki stage has its own permanent architectural features, though these may often be disguised with scenery. Downstage...

(The entire section is 8592 words.)

Benito Ortolani (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ortolani, Benito. “Kabuki.” In The Japanese Theatre: From Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism, pp. 153-99. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1990.

[In the following excerpt, Ortolani provides a critical overview of Kabuki's historical and socio-political development, its use of supernatural elements, and its major figures and works, including the playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon and the play Chūshingura.]


The history of Edo's theatrical splendor under the Tokugawa regime (1603-1868) has been the subject of several studies by Japanese and western authors, especially since World War II. The...

(The entire section is 11968 words.)