Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō

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Stanford University Press, Jan 1, 1998 - Literary Criticism - 381 pages
3 Reviews
Basho (1644-94) is perhaps the best known Japanese poet in both Japan and the West, and yet there has been remarkably little serious scholarship in English on his achievement. This book is intended to address that virtual void by establishing the ground for critical discussion and reading of a central figure in Japanese culture, placing the works of Basho and his disciples in the context of broader social change.

Intended for both the general reader and the specialist, Traces of Dreams examines the issues of language, landscape, cultural memory, and social practice in early modern Japan through a fundamental reassessment of haikai—popular linked verse that eventually gave birth to modern haiku—particularly that of Basho and his disciples.

The author analyzes haikai not only as a specific poetic genre but as a mode of discourse that emerged from the profound engagement between the new commoner culture that came to the fore in the seventeenth century cities and the earlier traditions, which haikai parodied, transformed, and translated into the vernacular.

Traces of Dreams explores the manner in which haikai both appropriated and recast the established cultural and poetic associations embodied in nature, historical objects, and famous places—the landscape that preserved the cultural memory and that became the source of authority as well as the contested ground for haikai re-visioning and re-mapping.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tombrinck - LibraryThing

This is a tremendous scholarly work covering the lifetime of Basho, his works, and the poetic theory underlying Basho's poetry. After reading this book, you will undoubtedly read Basho's poetry with a ... Read full review

Review: Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho

User Review  - Brandon - Goodreads

THE book for understanding Bashō. A wonderful corrective to the Orientalizing misreadings from the turn of the last century, especially the hyper-investment in Bashō as a haiku poet or a "Zen master." Wonderful scholarship, well-written, unusually enlightening. Read full review


Refiguring Cultural Memory
Basho Myth East and West
Baikal Language Haikai Spirit
Cutting and Joining
Linking and Communal Poetry
The Poet as Guest
Seasonal Associations and Cultural Landscape
Narrow Road to the Interior
Parting of the Ways
Glossary of Literary Terms
Selected Bibliography
Index of Cited Hokku by Basho with Approximate
General Index

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About the author (1998)

Haruo Shirane, Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, is a specialist in Japanese literature and culture, with special interest in prose fiction, poetry, and drama; the interaction between popular and elite cultures; and issues of cultural memory. He is the author and editor of over twenty books. His most recent book, Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons (2012), explores the cultural construction of nature across a wide spectrum of media and arts.

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