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)

New Fiction from Japan’s Most Important Proletarian Author

The Crab CanneryThis collection, translated by Zeljko Cipris, introduces the work of Japan’s foremost Marxist writer, Kobayashi Takiji (1903–1933), to an English-speaking audience, providing access to a vibrant, dramatic, politically engaged side of Japanese literature that is seldom seen outside Japan. The volume presents a new translation of Takiji’s fiercely anticapitalist Kani kosen—a classic that became a runaway bestseller in Japan in 2008, nearly eight decades after its 1929 publication. It also offers the first-ever translations of Yasuko and Life of a Party Member, two outstanding works that unforgettably explore both the costs and fulfillments of revolutionary activism for men and women. The book features a comprehensive introduction by Komori Yoichi, a prominent Takiji scholar and professor of Japanese literature at Tokyo University.

“A miracle happened in the world of Japanese letters in 2008: an eighty-year-old masterwork of Japanese proletarian literature appeared on best-seller lists. Embraced and reviled in its own day, dismissed and forgotten once revolution was declared both impossible and unnecessary, Kobayashi Takiji’s The Crab Cannery Ship, reborn here in zeljko Cipris’s fresh translation, stirred in Japanese a forgotten hunger for a literature that answers to bleak times with an incandescent anger and life-giving solidarity. This volume, which includes two novels never before translated, Yasuko and the Life of a Party Member, gives us a trio of works that speak to readers with prescient urgency.” —Norma Field, Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Japanese Studies, University of Chicago

January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3742-6 / $25.00 (PAPER)