SFU English 380: Mutilation and Foreign Relations in the Japanese Novel

A class blog for students of English 380 - "Literature in Translation" - at Simon Fraser University in Autumn 2005.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Second Lecture

Thursday's lecture introduced three important concepts in the Japanese aesthetic:

  • mono no aware
  • ki sho ten ketsu
  • wabi sabi

You were presented with a history of Japan that laid out a framework for understanding how the country's unique characteristic came about. Additionally, you were introduced to translation theory, and specifically the need for civilisation translation and its organic integration -- strongly, in case of the Japanese civilisation -- with language translation.

The history and the theory were the background for understanding the aesthetic: recalling from the opening lecture that aesthetic in Japan extends to politics, religion, athletics, language and human relationships,

Perhaps the essential concept to ingrain in yourselves is the heavy -- almost primary - responsibility that the Japanese put on the reader in literature (as too the hearer in speech.) This is mapped on the ten -- "turning" -- in the ki sho ten ketsu method of literary construction: the reader is required to draw on common civilisation heritage to connect the seemingly (but only seemingly) discrete ten element to the ki and sho which preceded it. We saw how in haiku the ketsu is actually absent forcing the reader to complete the poem mentally and thereby create its meaning.

We will need this sensibility firmly in mind to more properly appreciate the literature experienced in our course.

Tuesday's lecture will detail wabi sabi and turn to engage the makura no soshi closely.


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