Remapping the Sino-Japanese Dialectic: Sino-Japanese Interplay in Linked Verse Compositions of Japan, 14th to 17th Centuries
This dissertation examines the juxtaposition, interaction, and integration of what Japanese authors conceived of as “Japanese” and “Chinese” elements in linked verse compositions of Japan from the 14th to 17th centuries. Through examining un- or under-explored forms of linked verse, it shows the multiple dimensions of Japanese conceptions and representations of “China” and the complexity surrounding the Sino-Japanese relationship. A significant part of this dissertation is devoted to the discussion of Sino-Japanese interplay in wakan renku (linked verse in Japanese and Chinese) and wakan haikai (popular linked verse in Japanese and Chinese), in which verses written in vernacular Japanese and verses written in the form of classical Chinese (kanbun) were composed in alternating turns. In some cases, the Chinese verses comprehensively imitated precedents by Chinese authors, and they formed a very distinctive world from the one created by the Japanese verses that generally maintained Japanese poetic traditions. These linked verse sequences thus display a juxtaposition, confrontation, and integration of two entities that vary greatly in terms of poetic topoi, idea, sentiment, and style. In many cases, however, the so-called “Chinese” verses deviated from Chinese poetic traditions. Sometimes they draw upon vernacular Japanese poetry. Sometimes individual Chinese verses build on Chinese poetry but are linked in a Japanese way. Sometimes the Chinese verses do not make sense in Chinese; they only take the form of Chinese poetry but juxtapose it with vernacularized, Japanese content. These examples show the instability and hybridity embodied by the “Chineseness.” The boundary between Japanese and Chinese verses is greatly blurred and confused. Meanwhile, these examples reveal that the Sino-Japanese relationship within literary texts produced by Japanese authors is not unidirectional: vernacular Japanese texts also exerted influence on kanbun texts, making them diverge from Chinese poetic traditions. This dissertation also studies Japanese linked verse that heavily engaged with Chinese elements, focusing on compositions by the circle of Matsuo Bashō, the best-known poet in early modern Japan. On the one hand, I explore various ways Bashō’ circle appropriated Chinese literature in the “Chinese style” popular linked verse, demonstrating that their absorption of Chinese literature and thought on the spiritual level contributed to sublimating popular linked verse into a serious art. On the other hand, this dissertation seeks to demonstrate that Bashō’s reception of Chinese texts was sometimes mediated by Yamaguchi Sodō, who had profound knowledge in Chinese studies and was also a respected poet of popular linked verse. The existence of mediums between Chinese literature and Japanese reception casts doubt on a neat division of “Japan” and “China”.