Katō Shūichi's new history of Japanese literature will be completed with the publication of its second volume, promised by the publisher for 1980, and advertised as “tak[ing] the story from the end of the Muromachi period … to the present day”). Whatever critical response ultimately greets the project, no one is likely to complain that the author tried to keep us in the dark about the theoretical assumptions, much less the analytical approach, that he means to bring to bear upon his subject. Indeed, the entire long introduction (pp. 1–26) with which the first volume of Katō's history begins is an exposition of the author's working hypotheses, under five main subheadings. We are told that “[b]y tracing these factors and seeing how they interrelate, a clear picture of the structure of Japanese literature emerges and it becomes possible to present an orderly account of the history of that literature …” (p. 1). After giving this remarkably clear statement of his analytic work-plan, the author at once plunges into his main task, in chapters on “The Age of the Manyōshū,” “The Age of the Genji monogatari and the Konjaku monogatari,” and “The Age of and Kyōgen.”

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