A Brief History of Imbecility: Poetry and Prose of Takamura K?tar?

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University of Hawaii Press, 1992 - Poetry - 261 pages
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Takamura Kotaro (1883-1956) drew on his studies in New York, London, and Paris to lay the foundations in Japan for Western-style Japanese sculpture through his intricate wood carvings and powerful bronzes. But Takamura also composed poems infused with startling energy, directness, and narrative clarity. Among the first to use the vernacular masterfully in verse, he has long been recognized as one of Japan's premier modern poets.

Takamura thus stood in the confluence of two artistic currents, both shaping and being shaped by them. His personal experiences, from exultation to tragedy, found expression through this dynamic. Hiroaki Sato now captures a lucid picture of Takamura's eloquent struggle with art and with life. Originally published in 1980 as Chieko and Other Poems, this expanded volume includes a new introduction and a new selection of Takamura's essays on art and other subjects.

The poetry included here is divided into three parts: The Journey represents a chronology of the poet's life; Chieko is a selection of poems about Takamura's wife which describes his devotion to her for more than thirty years through courtship and marriage, during her illness and insanity, and continuing after her death; and A Brief History of Imbecility is a sequence of twenty autobiographical poems composed in 1947.

The essays, appearing in English for the first time, offer a more complete understanding of Takamura's relationship to art, his complex experience of Paris, and his views on beauty and creativity. Included here are The Latter Half of Chieko's Life, a moving prose complement to the Chieko poems, and A Last Glance at the Third Ministry of Education Art Exhibition, a scathing review of the modern art world, the first of its kind in Japan.

 

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Interesting self-exmination by Takamura, who supported the militarists during the war but regreted it afterwards Read full review

Contents

Desolation
5
Complaint
14
The Journey
22
Cathedral in the Thrashing Rain
28
Integrity
39
Headhunting
43
Waiting for Autumn
49
Whats Great
55
To One Who Died
120
Soliloquy on a Night of Blizzard
126
FAMILY
129
MODULATION
136
ANTINOMY
142
A Bundle of Letters Left Unmailed
153
Back from France
161
Ogiwara Morie Who Died
174

Peaceful Time
61
Kitajima Setsuzan
67
Making a Carp
73
Night in the Haunted House
79
Living and Cooking by Myself
82
Hands Wet with Moon
89
Fear
95
Fountain of Mankind
102
Two Under the Tree
108
Life in Perspective
114
A Green Sun
180
Thoughts
187
The World of the Tactile
195
Two Aspects of Realism
203
The Beauty and the Plasticity of the Cicada
209
The Latter Half of Chiekos Life
215
The Nobuchika and the Narutaki
236
Notes to the Poems
243
Notes to the Prose
257
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Page xiii - Cheekbones protruding, lips thick, eyes triangular, with a face like a netsuke carved by the master SangorO blank, as if stripped of his soul not knowing himself, fidgety life-cheap vainglorious small & frigid, incredibly smug monkey-like, fox-like, flying-squirrel-like, mudskipper-like, minnow-like, gargoyle-like, chip-from-a-cup-like Japanese...

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