Man’yōshū and the Imperial Imagination in Early Japan


In Man’yōshū and the Imperial Imagination in Early Japan, Torquil Duthie examines the literary representation of the late seventh-century Yamato court as a realm of "all under heaven.” Through close readings of the early volumes of the poetic anthology Man’yōshū (c. eighth century) and the last volumes of the official history Nihon shoki (c. 720), Duthie shows how competing political interests and different styles of representation produced not a unified ideology, but rather a “bundle” of disparate imperial imaginaries collected around the figure of the imperial sovereign. Central to this process was the creation of a tradition of vernacular poetry in which Yamato courtiers could participate and recognize themselves as the cultured officials of the new imperial realm.

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Torquil Duthie, Ph.D. (2005), Columbia University, is Assistant professor of premodern Japanese literature at UCLA. He is the author of articles on early Japanese poetry and historiography, and of translations of the Man’yōshū into English and the Kokinshū into Spanish.
"The many observations this book affords have the potential to enlarge our understanding of early Japan far beyond the seventh century that is its ostensible focus. […] Considerations of space make it impossible to do full justice to the wealth of issues, information, and insights that this extensively researched and erudite study has to offer. […] this book is a most welcome and important contribution to the burgeoning field of English-language scholarship on early Japan."
Gustav Heldt in Japan Review Nr. 28 (2015), pp. 258-260.
All interested in the cultural history and literature of Early Japan, and those with broader interests in the literary representation of empire in premodern East Asia.

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