by Dr Laura Moretti
Published by BRILL
The Tales of Ise and its hero Ariwara no Narihira have fascinated Japanese and international readers for centuries. Research has been done on the reception history of this Heian-period court tale, unveiling how the text was re-appropriated in different epochs for new audiences, their needs and their expectations. Yet, to date we did not know anything about any adaptation for children. Until the discovery of a picture-book originally owned by the scholar-diplomat Sir Ernest Satow, now kept at The British Library, opened new windows on this under-researched area.
This book introduces and examines the 1766 picture-book Ise fūryū: Utagaruta no hajimari (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta). It provides the full-colour reproduction of the original picture-book accompanied by the transcription in modern Japanese script and the English translation. It then offers a close-reading of the text, focussing on its intertextual relationship with The Tales of Ise and its position in the realm of children’s literature. It also provides the reader with an insightful discussion of the materiality of this early-modern book, challenging the received view around the early-modern genre of kusazōshi and its similarity with Western chapbooks. This book also hopes to inspire scholars to explore fresh perspectives on early-modern Japanese literature, by making use of original materials that lay un-researched in archives.
In this talk, Dr Laura Moretti explores this picture-book, examining how it adapts the The Tale of Ise for an eighteenth-century audience and investigating how it challenges our expectations towards children’s literature. The audience also had the opportunity to engage with original Japanese picture-books published in the same period of Utagaruta no hajimari.
A video of the talk can be found here:
Dr Laura Moretti
Dr Laura Moretti is a Lecturer in Pre-Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow at Emmanuel College. Her research focuses on early-modern Japanese literature, with a focus on popular prose. She has published in English and Japanese on a variety of topics that include seventeenth-century prose, early-modern ephemera and parodic rewritings. She is also actively engaged in the training of scholars in the palaeographical skills required to decode early-modern manuscript and printed materials.