Leca, Radu
Heidelberg University. Researcher

Manuscript and print in early modern Japan: the case of Ihara Saikaku

This presentation integrates reflections on a workshop held at Heidelberg University in June 2019 which the author co-organized. The workshop assessed recent directions in the study of the visual production of urban centres in early modern Japan. More specifically, there is an increased awareness and investigation of artistic production across a broad spectrum of materialities, genres, and social networks. This renders possible reconsideration of the meanings of the very categories of manuscript and print that have defined discussion on this topic.

I will apply these insights to the work of Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693), whose work has been defined primarily through his printed prose production. However, Saikaku was a prolific author of poetry, prose, and theatre plays in various formats: poem slips (tanzaku), poem cards (shikishi), bound printed books, manuscript books, hand-painted scrolls. What were the roles of each of those formats for Saikaku’s artistic goals? Which layouts, font styles, iconographies and compositions were copied from manuscripts into print and vice-versa? Were elements omitted or changes made? And on a larger scale, within a rapidly developing print culture, were traditional manuscript formats re-evalued in terms of their material presence?

To answer these questions, I use an approach developed as part of the ‘Material Text Cultures’ research project at Heidelberg University, which consists of analysing the material characteristics, topologies of production and use, and the social practices of texts as artefacts. This analysis reveals interconnected and fluid categories of artefacts with which Ihara Saikaku was experimenting during a dynamic phase of the evolution of print culture in Japan.

日本近世における写本と印刷物: 井原西鶴の場合


これらの洞察を、井原西鶴の作品に適用するつもりである。主に彼の浮世草子が研究対象になったが、西鶴は連歌、散文、演劇の様々なフォーマット(短冊、色紙、袋綴本、巻物)で制作した作家である。 これらのフォーマットのそれぞれの役割は何だったか?どの割付、フォントスタイル、図像や構成が写本から印刷物およびその逆にどのように模写されたか。そして、急速に発展している印刷文化の中で伝統的な写本フォーマットは再評価されたのか?答えるために、ハイデルベルク大学での「実質的テキスト文化」研究プロジェクトの一部として開発されたアプローチを使用する。それは実質的特性、生産と使用のトポロジー、そして物としてのテキストの社会的実践を分析する。この分析は、日本の印刷文化の進化のダイナミックな段階で井原西鶴が実験していたものと相互に関連した流動的な人口産物のカテゴリーを明らかにしている。