Historiographical Trends in Early Japan

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This reassessment of historiography in Japan investigates the neglected smaller historiographical works from 650CE to 1100 CE, and connects the quasi-history genre of later eras with the nikki (diary) genre, originating from the earliest tradition in Japan. It also provides annotated translations of the entire texts from seven of these works, the majority of which have never appeared in translation before.


“At the heart of this book are the first time translations of texts that supplement and provide perspective on more standard accounts, thereby identifying areas of contested history and refining the understanding of the development of historical genres….Done with erudition and care, this and the other translations, along with an initial discursive and analytic chapter, advance scholarship in the field.” - CHOICE

“He discusses Kogo shûi from a variety of perspectives, including: the character of the text; modern scholarship dealing with it; the argument advanced by its author; and the influence on it of other ancient texts, such as Nihon shoki. This analysis of Kogo shûi, along with the translation of it and the six other texts, greatly broadens the field of early Japanese historiography for readers of English. Bentley’s translations are smooth; his textual analysis of Kogo shûi informative; and his general commentary on early historiography helpful to students of the field. . . . another important contribution to what I hope will be a continuing boom in the study of early Japan.” – Paul Varley

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Foreword; Introduction
1. Toward a Genre
2. Kogo shûi
3. Takahashi ujibumi
4. Jôgû Shôtoku hôô teisetsu
5. Gangôji
6. Tôshi kaden
7. Kiyomaru Wake den
8. Ima kagami
Appendices: Jôgûki; Norito; Kogo shûi Gisaiben; Genealogy of Jôe; Bibliography; Index
About the author: Dr. John R. Bentley received his PhD in Japanese Language and Linguistics from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He specializes in pre-Nara Japan (linguistics, orthography, and history. He currently teaches at Northern Illinois University.

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