Santō Kyōden

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Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sant Kyden (sahn-toh kyoh-dehn) was born in Edo in 1761, the eldest son of Iwase Nobuaki, who was the adopted son of a pawnbroker in Edo. In 1773, his father left the pawnbroker’s family to strike out on his own, and later he became a minor city official. Kyden was apprenticed to print artist Kitao Shigemasa; he also studied chanting and playing the samisen. As an artist’s apprentice he learned to paint well and became acquainted with writers of his day. By the time he was seventeen, he also knew the pleasure quarters of the city. As a wood-block print artist, he became famous in the last twenty years of the eighteenth century. He produced some excellent work, more or less in the manner of his instructor, Shigemasa, but showing flashes of individual technique, power, composition, and use of color. His favorite subjects were the residents of the Yoshiwara, essentially the entertainment or red-light district of Tokyo. Some of the most interesting artworks were the illustrations he did for his own writings. After about ten years, however, he seems to have become so busy with his writing that he gave up painting. Ky{omacr}den[Santo Kyoden]}{$S[A]Ky{omacr}den, Sant{omacr}[Kyoden, Santo];Sant{omacr} Ky{omacr}den} Ky{omacr}den[Santo Kyoden]} Ky{omacr}den[Santo Kyoden]}

Although he published at least one earlier work, Kyden first won popular acclaim with Edo mumare uwaki no kabayaki (vanity and disillusionment). His first attempt to write a type of short story then current and dealing with the pleasure quarters was “Musuko beya” (1785; guide book to behavior in the pleasure quarters). This was a form in which he excelled, but in 1791 he was sentenced to house confinement in handcuffs for fifty days for this type of writing. From this time, Kyden turned to the production of more legitimate fiction (in this realm, however, he was not quite the equal of his contemporary Kyokutei Bakin). Both of Kyden’s wives were former...

(The entire section is 491 words.)