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Molly Vallor

Not Seeing Snow: Musō Soseki and Medieval Japanese Zen offers a detailed look at a crucial yet sorely neglected figure in medieval Japan. It clarifies Musō’s far-reaching significance as a Buddhist leader, waka poet, landscape designer, and political figure. In doing so, it sheds light on how elite Zen culture was formed through a complex interplay of politics, religious pedagogy and praxis, poetry, landscape design, and the concerns of institution building. The appendix contains the first complete English translation of Musō’s personal waka anthology, Shōgaku Kokushishū.

Introduction

Zen in the Generations Before Musō: The Growth of the Gozan System in Medieval Japan

Series:

Molly Vallor

Roger V. Des Forges

From 1644 to 2003, many Chinese historians and novelists debated the existence and the identity of a provincial graduate from Qi county in Henan province who reportedly helped the commoner rebel Li Zicheng overthrow the Ming polity (1368−1644) only to be suspected of disloyalty and killed by the rebel leader, thus clearing the way for the Qing that ruled China from 1644 to 1911. In 2004 there was discovered a genealogical manuscript that goes far towards solving the Li Yan puzzle and allows us to see how rumors were incorporated into histories and literary works that appealed to a wide variety of people over the course of three and a half centuries. In this essay, I compare and contrast the emerging mythistorical figure of Li Yan with other scholar-rebel-advisors in Chinese and world history and suggest that he was most akin to the Lord Chancellor Thomas More in sixteenth-century England who spoke truth to power and was celebrated in twentieth-century history and literature.