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In Praise of History

Earl Miner, 1 March 1984

A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. I: The First Thousand Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by David Chibbett.
Macmillan, 319 pp., £20, September 1979, 0 333 19882 4
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. II: The Years of Isolation 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 22088 9
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A History of Japanese Literature. Vol. III: The Modern Years 
by Shuichi Kato, translated by Don Sanderson.
Macmillan, 307 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34133 3
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World within Walls 
by Donald Keene.
Secker, 624 pp., £15, January 1977, 0 436 23266 9
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Modern Japanese Poets and the Nature of Literature 
by Makoto Ueda.
Stanford, 451 pp., $28.50, September 1983, 0 8047 1166 6
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Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake 
by Edward Seidensticker.
Allen Lane, 302 pp., £16.95, September 1983, 0 7139 1597 8
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... It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.             Henry James, Life of Hawthorne But, first of all, is there a history of silence?    Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference Literary history? Can there still be people who believe in it – or them: literature, history, literary history? Are not all texts on the same level, just texts? Is history not something synchronic, merely a different way of talking about language? The views implied by these rhetorical questions seem wrong to many people, myself included ...

Michi and Meiji

Nobuko Albery, 24 July 1986

Principles of Classical Japanese Literature 
edited by Earl Miner.
Princeton, 281 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 691 06635 3
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The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature 
by Earl Miner, Hiroko Odagiri and Robert Morrell.
Princeton, 570 pp., £39.50, March 1986, 0 691 06599 3
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Mitford’s Japan: The Memoirs and Recollections, 1866-1906, of Algernon Bertram Mitford, the First Lord Redesdale 
edited by Hugh Cortazzi.
Athlone, 270 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11275 2
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... I once received this stern admonition from an English editor: ‘If you intend to be a Japanese novelist whom we are translating into English, okay – I accept your manuscript as it is and will get on with publication. But if you wish to be considered an English writer, then you must rewrite. Don’t narrate to us, show us. And-then-and-then is not the way we want a story told ...

Unwritten Masterpiece

Barbara Everett: Dryden’s ‘Hamlet’, 4 January 2001

... written (no wonder Eliot liked it). The preference has moved now to Amphitryon, called by Earl Miner ‘his greatest comedy and one of the greatest comedies in English’. More recently, Howard Erskine-Hill, pursuing a political theme, sees the writer as doing a ‘particularly brilliant thing’ in Amphitryon; and Michael Cordner three times ...

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