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Classical Japanese: A Grammar

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231135245
ISBN-10: 0231135246
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Classical Japanese: A Grammar + Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary + Classical Japanese A Grammar - Exercise Answers and Tables
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This comprehensive guide... includes in-depth explanations, exercises and literary excerpts useful to beginners as well as advanced speakers.

(Columbia College Today)

A significant contribution to the field of premodern Japanese language and literary studies.

(Stephen D. Miller Monumenta Nipponica)

About the Author

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of The Tale of Genji and Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho; and an editor of Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature and Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231135246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231135245
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Haruo Shirane was born in Japan and grew up in the United States. He had an interest in writing fiction and started as an English literature major in college, but in his junior year, after a year in London, he turned his attention to Japanese literature. His first book was on The Tale of Genji, which is noted as the world's "first novel." The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of the Tale of Genji looks at both the similarities to the modern European novel and at the very distinct differences, examining the Tale of Genji in a broad social, political, and literary context. His next major book was on Matsuo Basho and haiku. Here he begins with a comparative framework, looking at the North American and European reception of Japanese haiku and then goes on to show the highly unusual manner in which this poetry emerged and the cultural base on which it stands. The most recent book, Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons, continues this trajectory, but carries it into various literary, visual, and artistic genres. He is interested in particular in the major role that nature and the four seasons has in Japanese culture.

In between these books, he has written two books on Japanese classical grammar, edited a number of anthologies of Japanese literature, and edited two volumes of essays on the issues of canonization and popularization of the Japanese classics.

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, at Columbia University. He writes widely on Japanese literature, visual arts, and cultural history. He is particularly interested in the interaction between popular and elite cultures and the issue of cultural memory. He is the recipient of Fulbright, Japan Foundation, SSRC, NEH grants, and has been awarded the Kadokawa Genyoshi Prize, Ishida Hakyō Prize, and the Ueno Satsuki Memorial Prize on Japanese Culture.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Japanese Instructor on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A very informative and useful book, unlike any other available text in this field in terms of its accessibility and attention to detail. After an overview of basic sentence structure and orthography, the chapters set out the major inflected parts of speech (verbs, adjectives, adjectival verbs, and verb suffixes or jodôshi), followed by non-inflected parts of speech (particles and nouns). The verb suffixes and particles are grouped by function, allowing the subtle differences between similar expressions to be made clear. The final chapters cover honorifics and Nara-period expressions. In all chapters, the grammatical explanations are clear and concise, and the functions of the expressions under discussion are well illustrated by the example sentences, drawn from classical texts.

More advanced material is clearly marked in the "Advanced Study and Reference" sections found throughout the chapters. The inclusion of such material allows the book to serve as a reference for advanced students, but its clear separation in the "Advanced Study and Reference" sections means that it does not overwhelm beginners. The "Historical Note" sections, also found throughout the chapters, describe the evolution of various Japanese expressions over time. This information is not only of interest to advanced learners, but is useful for demonstrating to beginning bungo students the relationship between some classical and modern Japanese expressions. The exercises appended to each chapter provide a valuable opportunity for students to become familiar with classical expressions within a limited context, before going on to read longer texts, and the tables of grammatical forms in the accompanying booklet are extremely useful for quick reference.

All in all, a highly readable work which should be of great interest to students and scholars of classical Japanese regardless of their level of ability.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ruisu on December 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the only English language textbook of classical Japanese that is readily available, and it far surpasses earlier attempts to create such a textbook. It is well-organized, explanations of grammatical issues are lucid, examples are aptly chosen, and it is eminently suitable both for teaching and for self-study. Teachers and students of classical Japanese have waited years for a textbook of this caliber and may now celebrate its arrival. Contrary to one other reviewer's complaint, the textbook is indeed a "package" accompanied by a 50-page booklet providing answers to exercises and very convenient tables of basic grammatical forms.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ksiezycowy on December 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This grammar is a great textbook/grammar for learning Classical Japanese. The text is kind of like a pedagogical grammar of the language, with many examples from actual Japanese literature. This is perhaps the strongest point of the book. As an earlier book, Introduction to Classical Japanese by Akira Komai, relied on artificial sentences rather then actual sentences.

This book is intended for use by people with some knowledge of modern Japanese, but I would surmise that even someone with little-to-no knowledge of Japanese can get something out of this text. The grammar sections are very clear and have many examples so you can see the language in action. And the vocabulary is introduced in the examples (though not is a conventional way). And with the companion volumes of Classical Japanese A Grammar - Exercise Answers and Tables and Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary you can get even more out of the text with little-to-no knowledge of Japanese. Of course I'm not advocating this, as a beginner-intermediate knowledge Japanese is advised. But this should give a good idea of the easy to understand nature of the book, and it's clear and concise format.

The historical notes and comparative Modern <-> Classical comparisons are also quite interesting and helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nathan G. Glenn on November 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is well-written and gives a complete enough grammar of Classical Japanese grammar and spelling, with lots of examples from classics.
My one nit- I didn't like the Word-document-esque formatting. The book is much bigger and heavier than it needed to be (although it is a nice-looking hardcover).
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