Kojiki Criticism - Essay

Basil Hall Chamberlain (essay date 1882)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Basil Hall Chamberlain, in his introduction to Translation of "Ko-Ji-Ki "; or, "Records of Ancient Matters, " second edition, J. L. Thompson & Co., 1932, pp. i-lxxxi.

[Chamberlain, a professor of Japanese and Philology at the Imperial University of Tokyo, was responsible for bringing many central works of classical Japanese literature into English. His translation of the Kojiki, first printed in 1882, has remained authoritative; excerpts from his original introduction appear below.]

Of all the mass of Japanese literature, which lies before us as the result of nearly twelve centuries of bookmaking, the most important monument is the work entitled...

(The entire section is 24748 words.)

Alexander Vannovsky (essay date 1960)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Alexander Vannovsky, in an introduction and "The Search for a Subject," in Volcanoes and the Sun, Bridgeway Press, 1960, pp. 11-29, 68-83.

[Previous to 1960, scholars cast the central conflict of the Kojiki in terms of sun and storm; Vannovsky amended these to sun and volcano, noting both the significance of volcanoes in Japanese geology and culture and their absence as explicit references in the Kojiki. In the first part of the following excerpt, he relates the essential material of the mythological portion of the Kojiki focusing especially on the Susano-o tales. In the second part, Vannovsky examines that portion through the lens of his central thesis.]...

(The entire section is 9045 words.)

Masao Yaku (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Masao Yaku, "Love Songs" and "The Theme of the Kojiki," in The Kojiki in the Life of Japan, translated by G. W. Robinson, The Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies, 1969, pp. 82-121, 122-50.

[In the following excerpt, the Kojiki is presented as a unified, literary work designed to provide a "basis and origin" for the Emperor's sovereignty. Combining literary and political analyses, Yaku contends that the "principle of conflict, fusion, and harmony" facilitates "an account of the creation of a state with centralized power brought about by the submission to the emperor of the chieftans and heads of clans at the base. "]

Were one to define...

(The entire section is 5262 words.)

Wieslaw Kotanski (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Wieslaw Kotański, "The Belief in Kotodama and Some Earlier Misinterpretations of Kojiki," in European Studies on Japan, edited by Ian Nish and Charles Dunn, Paul Norbury Publications, 1979, pp. 237-42.

[In the following essay, Kotański discusses the significance of proper names in the Kojiki, charging that earlier translators had neglected to pay them sufficient attention.']

While preparing the Polish translation of Kojiki, I have consulted some earlier European interpretations of that work, namely those of Chamberlain, Florenz and Philippi, and I have of course observed that they reveal no tendency to engage in translating the...

(The entire section is 2732 words.)

Fuminobu Murakami (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fuminobu Murakami, "Incest and Rebirth in Kojiki," in Monumenta Nipponica: Studies in Japanese Culture, Vol. 43, No. 4, Winter, 1988, pp. 455-63.

[In the excerpt that follows, Murakami grapples with the role of incest in the Kojiki, arguing that it is integral to the text's notion of eternal life.]

In Kojiki…, Izanami … is referred to as an imo…, a term meaning both wife and younger sister in ancient Japanese, and scholars have generally considered this to mean that she was only the wife, and not the sister, of Izanagi….1 The first scholar to suggest an incestuous union between the two was Oka Masao …, who claimed that...

(The entire section is 3531 words.)