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Ihara Saikaku/Great Mirror of Male Love

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A 7 page research paper that discusses the significance of Saikaku's text within the culture of seventeenth century Japan. Bibliography lists 6 sources.

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7 pages (~225 words per page)

File: KL9_khsaikaku.doc

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text Nanshoku okagami (The Great Mirror of Male Love), which is a collection of forty short stories that share the common theme of depicting some aspect of homoerotic desire and the consequences of this sexual behavior in seventeenth century Japanese culture (Danly "Review" 940). The following discussion of this work addresses the significant of this text and Saikaku to this literary period in Japanese history. Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693), born to a successful merchant family in Osaka, Japan, initially also became a merchant, but he abandoned this profession, first becoming a haikai master before turning to creating vernacular fiction (Shirane 21). Saikaku first began composing haikai (linked verse), when he was an adolescent and he achieved master status in 1662 at the age of twenty. Saikaku developed a style of haikai that allowed him to compose poetry quite rapidly and this style facilitated his transition to writing vernacular haikai fiction (Shirane 22). After 1686, Saikaku drew heavily upon material from Japans medieval history, such as collections of folktales. This allowed him to fully exercise his talents as a short-story writer, as he reworked narratives that he had heard or read (Shirane 22). These later works marked a shift away from the classical parody that was typical of Saikakus earlier narratives, as he created collections of short stories that are unified by a specific theme. This is true in regards to Great Mirror of Male Love (Shirane 22). Both Saikaku and his publisher had high hopes for the commercial success of Great Mirror, which is indicated by the fact that it was published simultaneously using a network that allowed the book to appear simultaneously on the market in Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo on New Years Day, 1687 (Danly "Review" 940). This date was chosen because that was when ...

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