This book explores poetic theory, philosophy, and critical practice by focusing on medieval renga (linked poetry composed by a group), waka (the individual five-line poem), and the Nō drama. It provides a theoretical framework for understanding linked poetry and the poetic treatise Murmured Conversations (Sasamegoto, 1463–1464) by the poet-priest Shinkei (1406–1475). Sasamegoto is regarded as the most representative poetic treatise from the Japanese medieval period. The book examines the larger philosophical context that gave rise to the numerous Buddhist citations and allusions in the treatise, along with the twin concepts of emptiness and temporality. It also draws medieval Japanese poetry and poetics into the contemporary Western discourse of poststructuralism, in particular Jacques Derrida's concepts of différance and deconstruction as well as the link between Buddhist emptiness and deconstruction. Furthermore, the book analyzes the place of medieval Japanese poetic practice and aesthetics within the discourse of Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, in part by considering the critical writings of Shinkei and other Japanese poets such as Teika, Shunzei, and Shōtetsu.
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