Chikamatsu: Five Late Plays

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Columbia University Press, Sep 4, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 376 pages

Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725), often referred to as "Japan's Shakespeare" and a "god of writers," was arguably the most famous playwright in Japanese history and wrote more than 100 plays for the kabuki and bunraku theaters. Today, the plays of this major literary figure are performed on kabuki and bunraku stages as well as in the modern theater, and forty-nine films of his plays have been made, thirty-one of them from the silent era.

Translations of Chikamatsu's plays are available, but we have few examples of his late work, in which he increasingly incorporated stylistic elements of his shorter, contemporary dramas into his longer period pieces. Translator C. Andrew Gerstle argues that in these mature history plays, Chikamatsu depicted the tension between the private and public spheres of society by combining the rich character development of his contemporary pieces with the larger political themes of his period pieces.

In this volume Gerstle translates five plays—four histories and one contemporary piece—never before available in English that complement other collections of Chikamatsu's work, revealing new dimensions to the work of this great Japanese playwright and artist.

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About the author (2002)

C. Andrew Gerstle is a professor of Japanese studies in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He is the author of Circles of Fantasy: Convention in the Plays of Chikamatsu and editor of Eighteenth Century Japan and other books.

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