Introduction 1. The Early Years 2. Student Days 3. The Song of the Hototogisu 4. Shiki the Novelist 5. Cathay and the Way Thither 6. Sketches from Life 7. Hototogisu 8. Shiki and the Tanka 9. Shintaishi and Kanshi 10. Random Essays (Zuihitsu), 1 11. Random Essays, 2 12. The Last Days Notes Bibliography Index
Rather than resist the vast social and cultural changes sweeping Japan in the nineteenth century, the poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) incorporated new Western influences into his country's native haiku and tanka verse. By reinvigorating these traditional forms, Shiki released them from outdated conventions and made them more responsive to newer trends in artistic expression. Using extensive readings of Shiki's own writings and accounts of the poet by his contemporaries and family, Donald Keene charts Shiki's revolutionary (and often contradictory) experiments with haiku and tanka. Keene particularly highlights random incidents and encounters in his portrait of this tragically short life, moments that elicited significant shifts and discoveries in Shiki's work. The push and pull of a profoundly changing society is vividly felt in Keene's narrative, which also includes sharp observations of other recognizable characters, such as the famous novelist and critic Natsume Soseki.
Donald Keene is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of more than thirty books, and his Columbia University Press books include Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912 (2002); Frog in the Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan, 1793-1841 (2006); Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan (2008); and So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers (2010). He is also the author of a definitive, multivolume history of Japanese literature.
In this new biography of Masaoka Shiki, Donald Keene tells Shiki's story with a wonderful blend of brio and depth. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, the work delves into hitherto slighted aspects of Shiki's oeuvre and personality. Readers of Japanese and world literature will welcome this book for its rich portrait of one of modern Japan's most important writers. -- Janine Beichman, author of Masaoka Shiki: His Life and Works This biography excels. Japan Times