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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Politicized aesthetics: reclusion literature in the Late Heian and Early Kamakura eras of pre-modern Japan Faulkes, Brittani Dawn Alison


This thesis presents a study of the political aesthetics arising from the ideological systems that motivated Yoshishige no Yasutane and Kamo no Chmei to write the “Chiteiki” (“Record of a Pond Pavilion,” 982) and “Hjki” (“Account of My Hut,” 1212) respectively. In order t arrive at a point where I can investigate political aesthetics, I begin by examining the recluse tradition: first in China: focusing on Confucian and Buddhist thought systems, and Taoist regard for nature; and then in Japan, where the Chinese recluse tradition was syncretized and changed within Japan’s own indigenous ideologies. I then examine the T’ang dynasty’s Po ChU-i (772—846) as a Chinese model of reclusion for Japanese writers such as Yasutane and Chmei. The second and third steps of my research investigate the dominant political and religious ideologies of the Late Heian (897—1185) and Early Kamakura (1185—1249) periods. Such an examination entails a comparative look at the various intertextual sources that fed the “Chiteiki” and “Hjciki”: Po Chti-i’s “Ts’ao-t’ang Chi” (“Record of the Thatched Abode,” 817) and “Ch’ih-shang p’ien” (“Around My Pond,” 829), and Minamoto no Kaneakira’s “Chiteiki” (960). The last section of this thesis takes a somewhat experimental approach, by setting up the problem of genre. Each of the authors I investigate wrote about his garden or surroundings, and I set out to explore the landscape traditions that contributed to these authors’ undertakings. In so doing, I examine the idea of the landscape as microcosm, and the literary devices that Yasutane and Chmei utilize in order to move us through their literary spaces. In conclusion, I reach an impasse, with a conflict of historicization versus de historicization, and new questions about the consciousness of the recluse and his free will in choice. These findings require future research.

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