Tag - the-asian-bookshelf

 
 

THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF

CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 20, 1999
Screening for image and reality
THE DOUBLE SCREEN: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting, by Wu Hung. London: Reaktion Books, 1996, 296 pp., with 170 illustrations, 20 in color, 14.95 British pounds. Just what is a traditional Chinese painting? This is the question asked and answered in this magisterial work of imaginative scholarship and cultural insight.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jul 6, 1999
From combat to sport and art
ARMED MARTIAL ARTS OF JAPAN: Swordsmanship and Archery, by G. Cameron Hurst III. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998, 244 pp., with b/w photos. Though people today are more inclined to study the martial arts of Japan than such culturally expected forms as tea ceremony and flower arrangement, books on the subject rarely venture beyond the instructional. The academic level is usually low and errors of historical fact are common. Few practitioners have acquired the training necessary for serious scholarship, and few Japan scholars have chosen to practice the martial arts.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 29, 1999
'Kaempfer's Japan': Tokugawa Edo as never before
Engelbert Kaempfer, German physician and historian, first arrived in Japan in 1690 to take up the position of physician at the Dutch trading agency on the island of Deshima in Nagasaki Harbor. Although Japan had already secluded itself, the Dutch traders were allowed a certain amount of freedom. This included traveling to Edo (now Tokyo) on the annual tribute mission. Kaempfer went twice, in 1691 and 1692.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 8, 1999
The darkest shores of the soul
SHIPWRECKS, by Akira Yoshimura, translated by Mark Ealey. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1996, 180 pp., $21. Though Akira Yoshimura, born in 1927, is the author of some 20 novels, this is the first to be translated into English. Perhaps the reason for the delay is that he is better known as a historian of the Pacific War. Two of his recountings have been published in translation: "Senkan Musashi" appeared as "Build the Musashi: The Birth and Death of the World's Greatest Battleship" (Kodansha, 1991), and "Reishiki Sentoki" was published as "Zero Fighter" (Praeger, 1995).
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 18, 1999
Culture: mirror or straitjacket?
THE WORLDS OF JAPANESE POPULAR CULTURE: Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Cultures, edited by D.P.K. Martinez. Cambridge University Press, 1998, 212 pp., unpriced. THE WORLDS OF JAPANESE POPULAR CULTURE: Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Cultures, edited by D.P.K. Martinez. Cambridge University Press, 1998, 212 pp., unpriced. As Mark Schilling said in his indispensable "Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture," postwar popular culture "has been extraordinarily fertile, vibrant and commercially successful." Its reverberations have been such that it has achieved academic status and is something at which scholars are looking.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 11, 1999
Cartoon eroticism, for real
EROTIC ANIME MOVIE GUIDE, by Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements. London: Titan Books, 1998, 192 pp., b/w photos, 12.99 British pounds. Japanese animated films, familiarly called "anime," have become well-known worldwide. With the success of the 1988 "Akira," the genre became a sound commercial export and its popularity (mainly on home television) continued, thus justifying the publication of Helen McCarthy's "The Anime Movie Guide" in 1996.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
May 4, 1999
Childhood memories of Calcutta under the Raj
CHILDHOOD DAYS: A Memoir, by Satyajit Ray, translated by Bijoya Ray. New Delhi: Penguin Books (India), 174 pp., with b/w photos and pen drawings by Satyajit Ray, Rs 200. The memoirs of film directors are often confined to early memories. Ingmar Bergman writes of his childhood, Akira Kurosawa gets up to the creation of "Rashomon" and then stops, Jean Renoir writes most warmly of his early days, and Satyajit Ray has a whole volume dedicated to his boyhood.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 20, 1999
Soseki's deep well of sadness
CHAOS AND ORDER IN THE WORKS OF NATSUME SOSEKI, by Angela Yiu. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998, 251 pp., $42 (cloth). This, the first full-length study of Soseki in English, is based upon the proposition that "beneath the emphasis on order, responsibility and a clear sense of morality, [there] lurks a dark, romantic voice that repeatedly directs our attention to the forces of chaos." Though this is true of every writer, it is perhaps a bit more self-evident in Soseki, whose chaotic depths were sometimes noticeable.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 13, 1999
Writer forever true to himself
THE LEGEND OF GOLD and Other Stories, by Ishikawa Jun. Translated by William J. Tyler. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998, 300 pp., $46 (cloth), $27.95 (paper). Jun Ishikawa (1899-1987) remains less known in the West than other Japanese writers of equal stature. With the publication of this volume, however, several more of his works become available in English. This is due to the devotion of William Tyler, whose translations of the 1936 "Fugen" ("The Bodhisattva," 1999) and the 1946 "Meigetsuju" ("Moon Gems," 1985) introduced Ishikawa to English readers.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Apr 7, 1999
Romantics roam the garden
SHARAWADGI: The Romantic Return to Nature, by Ciaran Murray. Introductions by Seamus Deane and Mine Okachi. Bethesda: International Scholars Publications, 1998, 352 pp., unpriced. As Seamus Deane says in his introduction, Ciaran Murray here proposes "a new axis for the intellectual history of the 18th century," one which favors "altogether more irregular personalities." One that also favors uncommon means.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 24, 1999
Martin and the king of Siam
A RESOUNDING FAILURE: Martin and the French in Siam, 1672-1693, by Michael Smithies. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 1998, 156 pp., 395 baht. Of the many mercantile adventures that marked European exploitations of Asia, one of the most entertaining is that of the French in Siam. This is a well-known story that has been told by many historians, among them Maurice Collis, E.W. Hutchinson and Michael Smithies himself. All have chronicled this classic failure, which began with the seeking of converts and trade and ended with troops, occupation and abject withdrawal.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 17, 1999
Sacred road maps to paradise
JAPANESE MANDALAS: Representations of Sacred Geography by Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999. Pp. 228; color plates 22; b/w illustrations, 104. $52.00 (cloth); $29.95 (paper). The mandala has been defined (by Toga no Shozui) as "a symmetrically arranged symbolic diagram used in Hinduism and esoteric Buddhism to express fundamental religious doctrine for the purposes of ritual and medication."
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 7, 1999
The meaning of good breeding
DOUBTFUL PARTNERS, by John Haylock. London: Arcadian, 1998, 188 pp., 10.99 British Pounds. This is John Haylock's sixth novel. Like the others, it is a diverting essay on the English sense of class. His characters are members of the gentry in a world -- Asia -- where the pretensions of British birth and breeding cannot exist. These comic figures are undone by their new reality.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Mar 2, 1999
Where Japan draws the line
EROS IN HELL: Sex, Blood and Madness in Japanese Cinema. Texts by Jack Hunter, Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Johannes Schonherr, Romain Slocombe. London: Creation Books, 1998, 228 pp., b/w photos, profusely illustrated, 14.95 British pounds. In 1966, Jack Hunter says, when the notorious publication "Death Scenes," photographs of murder/suicide victims, was imported into Japan, "customs officials were reportedly outraged -- because a few of the mangled, rotting corpses were naked."

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?