This book carves out a distinct niche in the scholarship in English on Japanese literature. Whereas most monographs in the field rely almost exclusively on prose fiction to investigate critical aspects of Japanese modernity, Scott Mehl sets out to analyze “the translation of literary form” from European poetry during the heyday of free verse (8), or “new style poetry” (shintaishi), in Japan from 1882 to 1907 that was subsumed in the reforms of the Meiji era (1868–1912). Accordingly, Mehl explores the diversity of poetry found in Japan during this period and the various transformations it underwent in dialogue with Western counterparts. At the outset I anticipated that this would include a discussion of Sinitic poetry (kanshi); the transformation of haikai no renga into haiku and the advent of literary sketching (shaseibun), led by Masaoka Shiki; and the experimentation with free verse, principally by young...

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