Recasting the Past: An Early Modern Tales of Ise for Children

In Recasting the Past: An Early Modern Tales of Ise for Children Laura Moretti recreates in image and text the unresearched 1766 picture-book Ise fūryū: Utagaruta no hajimari (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta). The introduction analyses Utagaruta through a discussion of the textual scholarship relating to chapbooks and kusazōshi. It also contextualizes this work to shed new light on the reception history of the canonical Tales of Ise and to position Utagaruta within the realm of children’s literature. This is followed by the full transcription and translation of Utagaruta, with annotations to each image. Learned and visually rich, Moretti’s study permits the reader to enjoy the inventiveness and beauty of early modern Japanese literature.

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Laura Moretti, PhD (2003), is Lecturer in Pre-modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge. She has published numerous articles on Japanese literature in English and Japanese with a research focus on early modern popular prose.
The information throughout is rich in both cultural and art history, making the book invaluable for scholars in multiple subject areas. The book’s extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources also contributes to its usefulness. Beautifully produced by Brill, the entire volume is a joy to hold and browse. The images of the complete original text are delightful and exquisitely reproduced. It is difficult to envision a more helpful and informative book on the subject than this one, which should appeal to all students of Japanese literature and specialists on the Tales as well as to scholars of printing, book history, and children’s literature. Both the author and publisher deserve the highest commendation for creating this outstanding contribution to Japanese studies. Peter MacMillan in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 73, No. 2, 2018, pp. 258-260.
Undergraduate, graduate students and specialists concerned with early modern Japanese literature and the reception of The Tales of Ise. All interested in textual scholarship, book history and children’s literature in general.
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