In 1585, Luis Frois, a 53 year old Jesuit who spent all of his adult life in Japan listed 611(!) ways Europeans and Japanese were contrary (completely opposite) to one another. Robin D. Gill, a 53 year old writer who spent most of his adulthood in Japan, translates these topsy-turvy claims - we sniff the top of our melons to see if they are ripe / they sniff the bottom of theirs (10% of the book), examines their validity (20% of the book), and plays with them (70% of the book). Readers with the intellectual horsepower to enjoy ideas will be grateful for pages discussing things like the significance of black and white clothing or large eyes vs. small ones, while others with a ken to collect quirky facts will be delighted to find, say, that the women in Kyoto were known to urinate standing up, or Japanese horses had their stale gathered by long-handled ladles, etc., and serious students of history and comparative culture will gain a better understanding of the nature of radical difference (exotic, by definition) and its relationship with the farsighted policy of accommodation pioneered by Valignano in the Far East.
topsy turvy 1585
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At 460 pages, this is the short version of Topsy-turvy 1585, a critical yet entertaining essay of the 611 ways Europeans and Japanese were considered contrary to one another, according to Luis Frois S.J. (1532-1597), a prolific letter writer who sent more information about Japan to Europe than anyone before or since. The book includes a full English translation of his treatise (Tratado em que se contem . . .), of the 611 topsy-turvy items, each only two-lines long (a distich)in the original, and hundreds of additional topsy-turvy items in the Foreword on the history of Topsy-turvy and within the much longer annotations by translator-critic robin d. gill. The Tratado was not an exercise in what we now call Orientalism, but precocious cultural relativism born in connection with the revolutionary new Jesuit policy of Accommodation. Note that Herodotus made dozens of black and white contrasts between Egypt and the Greco-Roman civilization he called "the rest of the world;" Alberuni (Il Biruni) did the same for India and the West (mostly what Occidentals now call the Middle East); but no one found hundreds as did Frois for Europe and Japan. Some of Frois's contrasts are almost expected: We paid to have night-soil removed; They paid for the night-soil. Some are a surprise: Our (European) women were far less free than Japanese women at that time. And some are just plain fun: We sniff melons on the top to see if they are ripe; Japanese do so on the bottom. (There is a reason for this, but you must buy the book to learn it). This is a book that is meant to educate and entertain. The author is known in Japan for writing books against stereotypes, explaining how differences between cultures and people are exaggerated. So, he is the perfect person to introduce the most radical book of difference ever written."
17-syllabet Japanese poems about human foibles, sans season (i.e., not haiku), were introduced a half-century ago by RH Blyth in two books, "Edo Satirical Verse Anthologies" and "Japanese Life and Character in Senryu." Blyth regretted having to introduce not the best senryu, but only the best that were clean enough to pass the censors. In this anthology, compiled, translated and essayed by Robin D. Gill, like Blyth, a renowned translator of thousands of haiku, we find 1,300 of the senryu (and zappai) that would once have been dangerous to publish. The book is not just an anthology of dirty poems such as Legman's classic "Limericks" or Burford's delightful "Bawdy Verse," but probing essays of thirty themes representative of the eros - both real and imaginary - of Edo, at the time, the world's largest city. Japanese themselves use senryu for historical documentation of social attitudes and cultural practices; thousands of senryu (and the related zappai), including many poems we might consider obscene, serve as examples in the Japanese equivalent of the OED (nipponkokugodaijiten). The specialized argot, obscure allusions and ellipsis that make reading dirty senryu a delightful riddle for one who knows just enough to be challenged yet not defeated, make them impenetrable to outsiders, so this educational yet entertaining resource has not been accessible to most students of Japanese (and the limited translations prove that even professors have difficulty with it). This book tries to accomplish the impossible: it includes all the information - original poems, pronunciation, explanation, glossary - needed to help specialists improve their senryu reading skills, while refraining from full citations to leave plenty of room for the curious monolingual to skip about the eclectic goodies. [Published simultaneously with two titles as an experiment.]
The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies brings together leading scholars and scholarship to capture the state of the field of Asian American Studies, as a generation of researchers have expanded the field with new paradigms and methodological tools. Inviting readers to consider new understandings of the historical work done in the past decades and the place of Asian Americans in a larger global context, this ground-breaking volume illuminates how research in the field of Asian American Studies has progressed. Previous work in the field has focused on establishing a place for Asian Americans within American history. This volume engages more contemporary research, which draws on new archives, art, literature, film, and music, to examine how Asian Americans are redefining their national identities, and to show how race interacts with gender, sexuality, class, and the built environment, to reveal the diversity of the United States. Organized into five parts, and addressing a multitude of interdisciplinary areas of interest to Asian American scholars, it covers: • a reframing of key themes such as transnationality, postcolonialism, and critical race theory • U.S. imperialism and its impact on Asian Americans • war and displacement • the garment industry • Asian Americans and sports • race and the built environment • social change and political participation • and many more themes. Exploring people, practice, politics, and places, this cutting-edge volume brings together the best themes current in Asian American Studies today, and is a vital reference for all researchers in the field.
This is the first book to translate a broad spectrum of the informal, improper and generally comic side of 31-syllable Japanese poetry called 'kyoka, ' or 'kyouka, ' literally, "mad-poems" or "madcap verse," representing in the words of Aston (1899), "absolute freedom both in respect of language and choice of subject." Literary anthologies have only translated a handful of kyoka to date, and the sole exception, recent catalogues of the color prints called 'surimono, ' stick to the rather tame kyoka of the early 19c that accompany the prints. The 2000 poems in Robin D. Gill's 740-page book include hundreds of "wild waka" ('waka' being the formal side of 31-syllable poetry) to help define the field and demonstrate how humors presence or absence depends upon our expectations and, in the case of an exotic tongue, our translation. "Mad In Translation" re-creates the wit of the originals in English on the one hand, while explaining what requires Japanese on the other. Many poems will delight those who appreciate the best of the Metaphysical Poets, the grooks of Piet Hein and all that might be called 'light verse for egg-heads.' Because of the narrow focus of most work published on kyoka in Japan, even specialists in Japanese literature may be surprised to discover in this book a brave old world of humor far larger and more entertaining than they might have imagined.
Additional to the sub-title, this is a selection, translation and lengthy explication of 3000 haiku, waka, senryu and kyoka about a major theme from I.P.O.O.H. (In Praise Of Olde Haiku).If the solemn yet happy New Year?s is the most important celebration of Japanese culture, and the quiet aesthetic practice of Moon-viewing in the fall the most elegant expression of Pan-Asian Buddhism=religion, the subject of this book, Blossom-viewing ? which generally means sitting down together in vast crowds to drink, dance, sing and otherwise enjoy the flowering cherry in full-bloom ? is less a rite than a riot (a word originally meaning an ?uproar?). The major carnival of the year, it is unusual for being held on a date that is not determined by astronomy, astrology or the accidents of history as most such events are in literate cultures. It takes place whenever the cherry trees are good and ready. Enjoyed in the flesh, the blossom-viewing, or hanami, is also of the mind, so much so, in fact, that poetry is often credited with the spread of the practice over the centuries from the Imperial courts to the maids of Edo. Nobles enjoyed link-verse contests presided over by famous poet-judges. Hermits hung poems feting this flower of flowers (to say the generic ?flower?= hana in Japanese connotes ?cherry!?) on strips of paper from the branches of lone trees where only the wind would read them. In the Occident, too, flowers embody beauty and serve as reminders of mortality, but there is no flower that, like the cherry blossom, stands for all flowers. Even the rose, by any name, cannot compare with the sakura in depth and breadth of poetic trope or viewing practice. In Cherry Blossom Epiphany, Robin D. Gill hopes to help readers experience, metaphysically, some of this alternative world.