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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sino-Japanese literature stands out among the Chinese-style literatures of East Asia for the wealth of texts preserved from the early period, its complex symbiosis with a flourishing vernacular tradition, and its pervasive reliance on gloss-reading techniques of Chinese texts (kundoku). These techniques allowed the transformation of Chinese texts into Japanese sound, syntax, and morphology and enabled a distinctive linguistic and creative distance from continental literary production. This chapter surveys the literary culture and production of Early Japan (Asuka, Nara and Heian Periods, seventh through twelfth centuries). After introducing the debates about the varied nomenclature of the corpus of “Sino-Japanese Literature” (kanbun; also called Japanese Literature in Chinese), it sketches the contexts of the emergence of Sino-Japanese textual culture and literature in Japan and gives an overview of major texts in their cultural context. It concludes with reflections on what students of China can learn from Sino-Japanese Literature.

Keywords: Sino-Japanese literature, Japanese literature, kanbun, logographic scripts, Nara Period, Heian Period, Sugawara no Michizane, Bai Juyi, Wakan rōeishū, Honchō monzui

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