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Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation

Hearn, Lafcadio

Published by MacMillan, New York, 1904
ISBN 10: 1414264992 / ISBN 13: 9781414264998
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation

Publisher: MacMillan, New York

Publication Date: 1904

Binding: Decorative Cloth

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Edition: 4th Printing


549pp/color frontis. Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), arguably one of the greatest Western writers of Japanese subject matter, died just prior to the publication of this final and perhaps best-known work; he had lived the last 13 years of his life in Japan, immersing himself completely in Japanese culture and, eventually adopting a Japanese name, Yakumo Koizumi. Disillusioned with modern Western society, Hearn adopted the Buddhist religion and became a naturalized Japanese citizen; he learned fluent Japanese in a remarkably short time and became one of the first non-Japanese to be appointed as a lecturer at Tokyo University. First publication with appendix. Corners bumped. Bookseller Inventory # 003300

About this title:

Synopsis: Contents:I. DIFFICULTIESII. STRANGENESS AND CHARMIII. THE ANCIENT CULTIV. THE RELIGION OF THE HOMEV. THE JAPANESE FAMILYVI. THE COMMUNAL CULTVII. DEVELOPMENTS OF SHINTOVIII. WORSHIP AND PURIFICATIONIX. THE RULE OF THE DEADX. THE INTRODUCTION OF BUDDHISMXI. THE HIGHER BUDDHISMXII. THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONXIII. THE RISE OF THE MILITARY POWERXIV. THE RELIGION OF LOYALTYXV. THE JESUIT PERILXVI. FEUDAL INTEGRATIONXVII. THE SHINTO REVIVALXVIII. SURVIVALSXIX. MODERN RESTRAINTSXX. OFFICIAL EDUCATIONXXI. INDUSTRIAL DANGERXXII. REFLECTIONSAPPENDIXBIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTESINDEX *** "Perhaps all very marked national characters can be traced back to a time of rigid and pervading discipline"--WALTER BAGEHOT *** excerpt from CHAPTER 1 - DIFFICULTIES A thousand books have been written about Japan; but among these,--setting aside artistic publications and works of a purely special character,--the really precious volumes will be found to number scarcely a score. This fact is due to the immense difficulty of perceiving and comprehending what underlies the surface of Japanese life. No work fully interpreting that life,--no work picturing Japan within and without, historically and socially, psychologically and ethically,--can be written for at least another fifty years. So vast and intricate the subject that the united labour of a generation of scholars could not exhaust it, and so difficult that the number of scholars willing to devote their time to it must always be small. Even among the Japanese themselves, no scientific knowledge of their own history is yet possible; because the means of obtaining that knowledge have not yet been prepared,--though mountains of material have been collected. The want of any good history upon a modern plan is but one of many discouraging wants. Data for the study of sociology are still inaccessible to the Western investigator. The early state of the family and the clan; the history of the differentiation of classes; the history of the differentiation of political from religious law; the history of restraints, and of their influence upon custom; the history of regulative and cooperative conditions in the development of industry; the history of ethics and aesthetics,--all these and many other matters remain obscure.This essay of mine can serve in one direction only as a contribution to the Western knowledge of Japan. But this direction is not one of the least important. Hitherto the subject of Japanese religion has been written of chiefly by the sworn enemies of that religion: by others it has been almost entirely ignored. Yet while it continues to be ignored and misrepresented, no real knowledge of Japan is possible. Any true comprehension of social conditions requires more than a superficial acquaintance with religious conditions.

Product Description:

As long as Japan's religious practices remain obscured and misunderstood, it will be impossible to interpret the country's art, history or even industry, argues the author of this work. After all, Milton, Dante and even Shakespeare can only be fully understood by those with a knowledge of Western religion. By analysing Japan's religion in depth, the author seeks to uncover what has long been hidden from Western view and to pave the way to a clearer understanding of Japanese life. The book includes sections on Ancestor-worship, the Communal Cult, the development of Shinto, Buddhism, social organisation, military power, loyalty, the Jesuits and many other topics.

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