Literature from Japan’s Mega-City, 1750-1850

An Edo AnthologyDuring the eighteenth century, Edo (today’s Tokyo) became the world’s largest city, quickly surpassing London and Paris. Its rapidly expanding population and flourishing economy encouraged the development of a thriving popular culture. Innovative and ambitious young authors and artists soon began to look beyond the established categories of poetry, drama, and prose, banding together to invent completely new literary forms that focused on the fun and charm of Edo. Their writings were sometimes witty, wild, and bawdy, and other times sensitive, wise, and polished. Now some of these high spirited works, celebrating the rapid changes, extraordinary events, and scandalous news of the day, have been collected in An Edo Anthology: Literature from Japan’s Mega-City, 1750–1850, edited by Sumie Jones, with Kenji Watanabe, an accessible volume highlighting the city life of Edo.

“Anyone who wishes to soak up the atmosphere of Japanese urban life in those marvellous years before Edo became Tokyo need look no further than this anthology. Designed around six thematic categories, the book leads us right to the heart of the colorful, the earthy, the comic, the scabrous world of what in the mid-eighteenth century was in all likelihood the largest city in the world. A special strength of this collection is its successful attempt to capture one of the most remarkable aspects of popular literature of the time: the visual excitement of the woodblock printed page. A superb teaching resource that puts Edo within reach of the classroom.” —Richard Bowring, Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge

February 2013
ISBN 978-0-8248-3629-0 / $70.00 (CLOTH)
ISBN 978-0-8248-3740-2 / $30.00 (PAPER)