RECLAIMING THE MARGINS: SEITA TANSO¯'S SUIKODEN HIHYO¯KAI AND THE POETICS OF CROSS-CULTURAL INFLUENCE

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Abstract

This article focuses on the literary criticism of the Edo-period scholar, Seita Tanso¯ (1719-1785). Although a historian by vocation, Tanso¯ additionally lectured extensively on the Chinese vernacular novel, Shuihu zhuan (Jp. Suikoden, En. The Water Margin). While earlier generations of Chinese fiction aficionados in Japan had also discussed Shuihu zhuan, early eighteenth-century analysis was primarily limited to philological explication - a task necessitated by the extensive use of colloquial language in the novel. In contrast to this tradition of philological exegesis, Tanso¯ turned his attention to the ethical content and literary structure of Shuihu zhuan. Tanso¯ was heavily influenced by the writing of the Chinese fiction commentator Jin Shengtan (1608-1661), and in this article, I discuss Tanso¯'s use of Jin's fiction criticism in the construction of his own interpretation of the novel. I argue that the dissemination of Chinese novels in Edo-period Japan cannot be discussed without an understanding of Japanese engagement with Chinese narrative theory, and I identify Seita Tanso¯ as an important figure in a transition from philological to more purely narratological analysis of Chinese vernacular fiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Asian Studies
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Chinese fiction
  • Edo period
  • Jin Shengtan
  • Seita Tanso¯
  • Shuihu zhuan
  • Suikoden
  • The Water Margin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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