A Brief History of Imbecility: Poetry and Prose of Takamura Kōtarō

Paperback: $16.00
ISBN-13: 9780824814564
Published: July 1992

Additional Information

296 pages
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  • About the Book
  • Takamura Kotaro (1883-1956) drew on his studies in New York, London, and Paris to lay the foundations in Japan for Western-style Japanese sculpture through his intricate wood carvings and powerful bronzes. But Takamura also composed poems infused with startling energy, directness, and narrative clarity. Among the first to use the vernacular masterfully in verse, he has long been recognized as one of Japan's premier modern poets.

    Takamura thus stood in the confluence of two artistic currents, both shaping and being shaped by them. His personal experiences, from exultation to tragedy, found expression through this dynamic. Hiroaki Sato now captures a lucid picture of Takamura's eloquent struggle with art and with life. Originally published in 1980 as Chieko and Other Poems, this expanded volume includes a new introduction and a new selection of Takamura's essays on art and other subjects.

    The poetry included here is divided into three parts: “The Journey” represents a chronology of the poet's life; “Chieko” is a selection of poems about Takamura's wife which describes his devotion to her for more than thirty years through courtship and marriage, during her illness and insanity, and continuing after her death; and “A Brief History of Imbecility” is a sequence of twenty autobiographical poems composed in 1947.

    The essays, appearing in English for the first time, offer a more complete understanding of Takamura's relationship to art, his complex experience of Paris, and his views on beauty and creativity. Included here are “The Latter Half of Chieko's Life,” a moving prose complement to the Chieko poems, and “A Last Glance at the Third Ministry of Education Art Exhibition,” a scathing review of the modern art world, the first of its kind in Japan.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Takamura Kotaro, Author

    • Hiroaki Sato, Translator

    • Hiroaki Sato, Translator