The Clear Mirror: A Chronicle of the Japanese Court During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333)
Stanford University Press, Aug 1, 1998 - Literary Criticism - 360 pages
The Clear Mirror (Masukagami) is an account of Japanese history from 1185 to 1333 by an anonymous author, almost certainly a court noble writing around the third quarter of the fourteenth century. During this time, the military government at Kamakura controlled the country, maintaining the emperor with his court at Kyoto as symbolic head of state. Though the imperial court had little real power, it attempted to maintain as much of its former dignity and prestige as it could.
The Clear Mirror is at least semi-fictionalized, promoting a picture of a court healthier and more powerful than it really was. Moreover, the work sees the court as guardian of its own traditional arts and lifestyle, and thus provides not only a history of imperial succession and other events but also copious examples of poetic expressions and descriptions of courtly traditions and ceremonies. Because of its attempt to exemplify the best in the courtly prose tradition (it is noted for its imitation of the style of the masterpiece The Tale of Genji), the work has long been valued in Japan as much for its artistic literary contribution as for its historical significance. The present translation makes available to English readers the last significant work belonging to the genre of “historical tales” (rekishi monogatari), another example of which is A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (translated by William and Helen Craig McCullough, Stanford, 1980).
The introduction provides a brief summary of the significant historical and political events of the period, together with a discussion of the significance of The Clear Mirror within the “historical tales” tradition, and comments on the literary strengths and weaknesses of the work. A glossary identifies people and places mentioned in the text, and an appendix discusses details concerning the work’s authorship, possible dates of initial publication, and other matters relating to the original manuscript.
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autumn brother capital carriage ceremony Chancellor Chapter Chinese Clear Mirror consort court courtiers crown prince Daikakuji daughter death Emperor Fushimi Emperor Go Emperor Go-Daigo Emperor Go-Fukakusa Emperor Go-Fushimi Emperor Go-Saga Emperor Go-Toba Emperor Go-Uda Emperor Kameyama Emperor Tsuchimikado exile father Fujiwara Genji Go-Fushimi grandson Higashinijö-in Höjö Honorary Empress hunting robe imperial palace Inoue Juntoku Kamakura shogun Kazan-in Kintsune Kishi Kögon Konoe koto Kujö Kyoto Lady lady-in-waiting Majesty Mansion Masukagami McCullough 1980 McCullough and McCullough Michiie Middle Captain Minamoto monk monogatari mother Nijö Oki Province Omiya-in Palace Minister peror poem poet poetry Prefecture present Priestly Imperial Prince Prince Munetaka Prince Takanaga prince's Princess Province provisional major counselor Provisional middle counselor regent reign Reizei Retired Emperor Go-Fukakusa Retired Emperor Go-Saga Retired Emperor Go-Toba Retired Emperor Kameyama Rokuhara Saionji Sanekane Saneo Saneuji senior nobles Shijö Shrine Sutra Taira Tameyo Temple Tendai throne Took Buddhist vows Tsuchimikado warriors Yoritomo