This chapter provides background on eighteenth-century Japanese writers, focusing on the philosophy of the Confucian scholar Ogyū Sorai (1666–1728) who believed that an interest in historical cultures could be combined with an emphasis on emotionality. It discusses Ogyū Sorai and his Tokugawa antecedents, Maruyama Masao's view on Sorai's modernity, Sorai as a philosopher of culture, emotions and linguistic form in Sorai's poetics, Japanese culture as emotional closure according to Norinaga's poetics, and Confucianism and the discourse of emotions in eighteenth-century literary thought. Furthermore, this chapter contends that people need to take seriously the ways in which writers of this time combined poetry with cultural and intellectual pursuits that to the modern reader lie outside the rubric of “literature,” rather than dismissing such efforts as evidence of these figures' failure to grasp some purported essence of what poetry or literature should be.
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