Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - The Materiality of Reading in Early Modern Japan: Hayashi Razan’s Copies of Chinese Fantastic Tales and the Use of the Marginalia

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Virginia Suite B, Lobby Level

Hayashi Razan (1583-1657), one of the most distinguished Confucian scholars of early modern Japan, established Neo-Confucianism as the Tokugawa shogunate’s state ideology. At the same time, Razan was also known as an enthusiastic reader of Chinese tales of the strange (zhiguai). In fact, his reading, translating, and compiling of Chinese fantastic tales contributed to the flourishing of ghost culture throughout the Tokugawa period. By analyzing the material aspects of Razan’s hand-written manuscripts, this paper demonstrates that this eminent Japanese Confucian scholar created the texts attributable to him by commanding the marginal space of the books. Thus, his manuscripts are not mere copies of Chinese books. For this presentation I focus on Razan’s transcribed copies of the Ming-dynasty collections, Humei congtan (Collected Talks on Fox Seduction) and Jiandeng xinhua (New Tales for the Trimmed Lamp-wick). Razan’s hand-copied illustrations for Fox Seduction suggests that his moralistic and aesthetic judgment led him to subtly change the visual expressions found in the Chinese edition. Furthermore, Razan’s copy of New Tales was the Korean annotated edition—not the continental version without annotations­. Thus, comparing his manuscript with the most standard edition of New Tales published in 1648 in Japan and Razan’s compilation of translated ghost tales, which became available on the Tokugawa book market, points to important differences. The rich body of punctuations and annotations between the lines was not only continuously reproduced but also incorporated into the “main” text, thereby diluting the hierarchical distinction between the main narrative and the annotation.

Fumiko Jōo

Mississippi State University, Mississippi

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3 - The Materiality of Reading in Early Modern Japan: Hayashi Razan’s Copies of Chinese Fantastic Tales and the Use of the Marginalia



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