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Subtitled “Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan,” William R. LaFleur’s book surveys an expanse of Japanese literary history ranging from the “Nihon Ryoiki” of the early ninth century to Basho’s posthumous “Narrow Road to the Deep North” (1702). This is a more generous definition of “medieval” than usual, identifying the key characteristic of the era as the supremacy of the Buddhist canon in Japanese thought rather than any particular political arrangement.

Each chapter examines the interaction of medieval Buddhism and literature from a new angle.

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