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Ihara Saikaku and Ejima Kiseki were active on the literary scene during the decades-long first flowering of urban townsman culture in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shoguns. Saikaku gradually cultivated a growing group of fellow poets and disciples who joined him in haikai composition. He edited five volumes of verses for publication, but his own verses appeared sporadically in the haikai collections of other Danrin poets. A posthumous publication in the category of books on love was titled Saikaku okimiyage, and represented the last collection of stories on what might be termed Saikaku's favorite and defining subject, sexual love. Kiseki's first foray into the genre of ukiyo-zoshi was a five-volume Hachimonjiya publication titled Keisei iro samisen. Kiseki's skillful use of sentimentality in his writings appealed to a broad readership in his day, and this quality allowed his works to exert on ongoing influence on Edo period letters.
The Cambridge History of Japanese Literature provides, for the first time, a history of Japanese literature with comprehensive coverage of the premodern and modern eras in a single volume. The book is arranged topically in a series of short, accessible chapters for easy access and reference, giving insight into both canonical texts and many lesser known, popular genres, from centuries-old folk literature to the detective fiction of modern times. The various period introductions provide an overview of recurrent issues that span many decades, if not centuries. The book also places Japanese literature in a wider East Asian tradition of Sinitic writing and provides comprehensive coverage of women's literature as well as new popular literary forms, including manga (comic books). An extensive bibliography of works in English enables readers to continue to explore this rich tradition through translations and secondary reading.
In the final years of the Meiji era, women confronted a host of restrictions imposed by the newly constructed "family system", yet the profound social transformations in education, urbanization, and even the organization of work and home, created new terrains for women as both readers and authors. Tamura Toshiko published a succession of stories: Ikichi in the feminist journal Seito, followed by Seigon and Onna sakusha. Over the course of the interwar period, a new generation of women writers achieved considerable popularity and notoriety, with readership sufficient to support their literary careers that, for many, continued in the decades following the Pacific War. Despite increasingly strict scrutiny from censors from the early 1930s, women writers continued to probe the inherent inequalities of sexual politics. Sata Ineko's Crimson depicts an unhappy, unstable marriage that highlighted the limits of shared political convictions. Sata had achieved initial recognition through her autobiographical account of exploited child labor in Kyarameru kojo kara.