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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: January 2016

39 - Publishing and the book in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

from Part IV - The Edo period (1600–1867)


Recluse literature, and the related label "thatched hut literature" are terms coined in the twentieth century to describe works in a variety of genres, such as waka, setsuwa, and zuihitsu, by a broad array of authors of the medieval period. Saigyo, Kamo no Chomei, and Yoshida Kenko exemplify the recluse ideal while problematizing the idea and practice of isolation. By the end of the Heian period, the trope of reclusion in waka was dominated by nuns, many of whom had been imperial women at court. Chomei's language reflects the trend in recluse literature to conflate the poetic diction of the four seasons with the language and concepts of Buddhism making nature not only the great mirror of human emotion but also a manifestation of the Buddhist Dharma. Kenko came from a Shinto family of priests and diviners. Medieval recluse literature chronicles the numerous forces that pulled hermits and travelers both toward and away from the poles of the sacred.

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