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Constructing the Classic: Tsurezuregusa in Tokugawa Readings
Linda H. Chance
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 117, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1997), pp. 39-56
Published by: American Oriental Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/605621
Page Count: 18
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Do East Asianists belong in the conversation over canons? We may trace the canonization of texts without destroying their value. As an example, this paper analyzes the struggle to master Tsurezuregusa, a fourteenth-century Japanese text whose open-endedness both complicated and facilitated its promotion to classic status. The transition from a text that is enjoyed desultorily to a work taken up whole for use in educational contexts-where canons are created-was complete by the early Tokugawa (1600-1868). Dominant interpretations were arrived at through debate as different classes and ideologues attempted to adopt the content of the text to spread their own messages. These interpretive frameworks became assimilated to the text. Tsurezuregusa was also rewritten with new content. Study of the text was followed by parody and play. Didactic readings were rejected in favor of aesthetic valuation, which we view today as the essence of Tsurezuregusa and the reason it is a classic.
Journal of the American Oriental Society © 1997 American Oriental Society