Chapter

Introduction

Donald Keene

in The Winter Sun Shines In

Published by Columbia University Press

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780231164887
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780231535311 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7312/columbia/9780231164887.003.0013
Introduction

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This book examines how Masaoka Shiki saved the dismal condition of Japanese poetry in the nineteenth century. In 1867, the year that Shiki was born, Japanese literature was at one of its lowest points. The quality of all varieties of literature had steadily declined. The haiku and tanka were all but dead when Shiki began to write his poetry and criticism. The best poets of the time had lost interest in short poems. Shiki and his disciples, finding new possibilities of expression within the traditional forms, preserved them. Shiki left behind a staggering amount of writing; his zenshū (complete works) consists of twenty-two volumes of small print, each over 500 pages. Most of his best works were written during his last seven years before his death in 1902. Today, the millions of Japanese (and many non-Japanese) who compose haiku and tanka belong to the School of Shiki, and even poets who write entirely different forms of poetry have learned from him. He was the true founder of modern Japanese poetry.

Keywords: haiku; tanka; Masaoka Shiki; poetry; Japanese literature; short poems; zenshū; School of Shiki; poets

Chapter.  3583 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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