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Wondrous Brutal Fictions


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Notes on the Translation Introduction Sansho Dayu Karukaya Shintokumaru Oguri Sayohime Aigo-no-waka Amida's Riven Breast Goo-no-hime Appendix 1. Major Sekkyo Chanters Appendix 2. Works in This Volume Glossary Bibliography

Promotional Information

Wondrous Brutal Fictions presents eight seminal works from the seventeenth-century Japanese sekkyo and ko-joruri puppet theaters. They range from stories of cruelty and brutality to tales of love, charity, and outstanding filial devotion, representing the best of early Edo-period literary and performance traditions and acting as important precursors to the bunraku and kabuki styles of theater. These texts relate the histories and miracles of particular buddhas, bodhisattvas, and local deities. Many of their protagonists are cultural icons, recognizable through their representation in later works of Japanese drama, fiction, and film. More than fifty reproductions of mostly seventeenth-century woodblock illustrations offer rich, visual foundations for the book's critical introduction and translated tales. The book provides an unprecedented encounter with popular Buddhist drama and its far-reaching impact on literature and culture.

About the Author

R. Keller Kimbrough is an associate professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, Colby College, and the University of Colorado. He is the author of Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way: Izumi Shikibu and the Buddhist Literature of Medieval Japan.


The tales included in this collection fill a significant gap in our understanding of the intersection of itinerant Buddhist storytelling tradition and the early puppetry in Japanese religion and society. Kimbrough's introduction is informative and his translation is gripping and accessible... A must read. -- Jane-Marie Law Japanese Language and Literature Kimbrough has been most active as a scholar of medieval religious literature, and his erudition is evident in these excellent translations of the sekkyo classics. -- William Lee Japanese Journal of Religious Studies This collection is of great value to theatre history, religious studies, and cultural studies... [Wondrous Brutal Fictions] should be celebrated for making connections between the performative, the religious, and the textual. -- Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr. Japanese Studies

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