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Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary [Hardcover]

Haruo Shirane
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 16, 2007 023113990X 978-0231139908 Bilingual

In 2005, the celebrated scholar of Japanese literature Haruo Shirane published Classical Japanese: A Grammar. Now, with Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary, he completes his two-volume textbook for learning classical, or literary, Japanese—the primary written language in Japan from the seventh to the mid-twentieth century. The text contains carefully selected readings that address a wide array of grammatical concerns and that steadily progress from easy to difficult. The selections encompass a wide range of historical periods and styles, including essays, fiction, and poetry from such noted works as The Tale of Genji, The Tales of Ise, The Pillow Book, The Tales of the Heike, and Essays in Idleness, and such authors as Ihara Saikaku, Matsuo Basho, Ueda Akinari, Motoori Norinaga, and Fukuzawa Yukichi. Each reading is accompanied by a short English introduction, a vocabulary list, and extensive grammatical notes, and ends with a comprehensive grammatical annotation.

The classical Japanese-English dictionary composes the last third of the book and features approximately 2,500 key words, highlighting those used most frequently. The first of its kind, this volume is a vital tool for students, scholars, and translators of classical Japanese.


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Classical Japanese Reader and Essential Dictionary + Classical Japanese: A Grammar + Classical Japanese A Grammar - Exercise Answers and Tables
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University. His many books include Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900; Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho; and The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of The Tale of Genji.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Bilingual edition (March 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023113990X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231139908
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,606 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.



Customer Reviews

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Textbook April 21, 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is the companion volume to the same author's Classical Japanese: A Grammar (2005). It includes a useful selection of excerpts from texts from the Nara to Meiji periods (eighth to nineteenth centuries), each accompanied by vocabulary notes, grammar notes, and a complete grammatical annotation. The texts include poetry (waka and haikai) and prose (zuihitsu, nikki, setsuwa, various types of monogatari, etc.), thus exposing students to a wide range of textual styles and providing an excellent introduction to the different forms of classical Japanese. The specific vocabulary items given in the notes for each text are complemented by those included in the classical Japanese-English Essential Dictionary at the back of the book. The Essential Dictionary, which also highlights the six hundred most frequently used words in classical Japanese, is a great resource for students, particularly beginners who might find a classical Japanese-modern Japanese dictionary difficult to use. The clear layout, thoughtful text selection, and comprehensive vocabulary and grammar notes make this an excellent textbook, one which should be of immense value not only to instructors and students of classical Japanese, but also to any reader looking to teach themselves the language.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading Material December 5, 2010
Format:Hardcover
This text is meant to go with Classical Japanese: A Grammar, and it does a great job of giving some great readings in Classical Japanese.
It represents each reading in the following way:
1. It gives the whole text in full with no grammar or vocabulary help. (It does give furigana)
2. Then it gives a grammar and vocabulary breakdown of individual sections of the text.
This is a very good and detailed way of looking at the passages. The grammar sections do use Japanese terminology, but by the time you use this text you should know the terms from the grammar.

The dictionary is not huge, but it is still a great start to picking up some Classical Japanese vocabulary. It has all the words in the grammar and reader, as well as some additional words.
Overall I highly recommend this text with the other two companion volumes it goes with, the grammar and answer key.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Classical Japanese October 30, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wouldn't recommend any other book for classical Japanese. Classical Japanese pronounces words differently than modern Japanese kanji, so it is essential to have good solid knowledge of modern Japanese kanji before attempting to do this book. I would recommend the book to people who have passed at least JLPT 3.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to some classical texts July 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is a good introduction to some classical japanese texts with a small dictionary on the side. I still would like to have some more grammatical explanations though, a version in modern japanese would be nice too.
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