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Glossae – Scholia – Commentarii

Studies on Commenting Texts in Antiquity and Middle Ages

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Mieczyslaw Mejor, Katarzyna Jazdzewska and Anna Zajchowska

The role of commentary as a basic method of research used broadly in both Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages still awaits further analysis. Commentary as a research and didactic method becomes especially interesting in a multicultural perspective: were Buddhist and Arabic texts commented in the same way as it was done by late antique and medieval scholars? The extensive medieval commentary literature still awaits scholarly assessment from the perspective of theory of literature as well as methodology and history of various scientific disciplines.
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Adam Bednarczyk: Prose Criticism in the Bush Warbler’s Hideout: Mumyōzōshi as the Earliest Literary Critical Commentary on Genji monogatari

Alleged author and date of Mumyōzōshi

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Prose Criticism in the Bush Warbler’s Hideout: Mumyōzōshi as the Earliest Literary Critical Commentary on Genji monogatari

Adam Bednarczyk

Japanese Language and Culture Center,Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń

Exactly thirty years have passed since the publication of the first translation of Mumyōzōshi 無名草子 (The Untitled Book) by Michele Marra.1 For many decades of the twentieth century, when various works of Japanese literature were being consecutively translated into foreign languages, no translation of Mumyōzōshi appeared, even as an excerpt. Based on Marra’s M.A. thesis, the English translation with an accompanying introduction to the work is an important accomplishment, which provides a deep insight into the perception of the court literature.

The Mumyōzōshi is an early Kamakura (1195–1333) semi-fictional work written in kana and generally recognized as the earliest text in Japanese literature devoted primarily to prose criticism. The greater part of the Mumyōzōshi is focused on the analysis of works in the monogatari 物語 (‘narrative’, ‘tale’) genre and of other writings. However, the author displays a particular interest in one of them, namely Genji monogatari 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu). Initially, the tale was probably simply a monogatari enjoyed above all by women, but it became one of the most influential classical Japanese works, one which has been interpreted, analyzed, and evoked over centuries. The discussion of Genji monogatari is the most detailed part of Mumyōzōshi, and about one-third of...

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