The poetry written by the Japanese imperial court between A.D. 550 and 1350 is one of the great literatures of the world. The present volume, an introduction to that literature, is at once a condensation, a reorganization, and an extension (to A.D. 1500) of Japanese Court Poetry (1961), by the author and Robert H. Brower, the standard treatment of the subject is in English. The book's five central chapters are devoted to the major court poets and their work; other chapters deal with the forms, assumptions, and themes of court poetry. The author's emphasis throughout is on the human and cultural values of this poetic tradition. Over 150 poems are included in both transliteration and translation. Many of the translations are joint efforts with Professor Bower; others are new translations by the author. The approach to the poems is essentially critical, and draws on the findings of recent Japanese scholarship.
"Comparative literature," Earl Miner writes, "clearly involves something more than comparing two great German poets, and something different from a Chinese studying French literature or a Russian studying Italian literature." But what would a true intercultural poetics be? This work proposes various ways to "study something other than what are, all things considered, the short and simple annals of one cultural parish at one historic moment." The first developed account of theories of literature from an intercultural standpoint, the book shows that an "originative" or "foundational" poetics develops in cultures with explicit poetics when critics define the nature and conditions of literature in terms of the then most esteemed genredrama, lyric, or narrative. Earl Miner demonstrates that these definitions and inferences from them constitute useful bases for comparative poetics.