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Manga from the Floating World: Comicbook Culture and the Kibyoshi of Edo Japan (Harvard East Asian Monographs) Hardcover – December 18, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Adam L. Kern's stylish study demonstrates clearly the lack of any ongoing tradition: the kibyoshi were forgotten until the modern Japanese comics industry, accused of slavish imitation of America, needed to provide itself with roots, or at least with distant, childless cousins. (Roz Kaveney Times Literary Supplement 2007-08-03)

The present volume is a brilliant introduction to the world of kibyoshi. Taking account of very different aspects of Edo's literary and cultural life, Kern provides a fascinating view of a long-disregarded form of Edo literature. (Stephan Kohn Monumenta Nipponica 2007-06-01)

Manga from the Floating World is a treasure trove of cultural tidbits...Kern's love of his subject is infectious; how many scholarly books can be described as a joy to read? Mirroring the contradictions embodied in his beloved kibyoshi, Kern's seemingly effortless, flowing prose belies a Mount Fuji of thoughtfulness, planning, imagination and erudition. He writes, as was once said of Raymond Chandler, like a slumming angel--but much more engagingly. His prodigious command of sources and generosity in crediting ideas are exemplary. His deft deployment of literary and cultural theory is as masterful as it is discreet. The book generates broad questions that resonate in the reader's mind: How does humor "work"? What is the social role of the bestseller? What kinds of things do urban myths really tell us? How does the concept of au courant embody the seeds of its own demise? Why do people read? Some twenty years ago I asked Henry Smith why no one tried to do for Edo what Robert Darnton accomplished for eighteenth-century France in his classic The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History: giving readers the gift of mental time travel. The answer was that the Japanese material is nearly impossible for any single person to retrieve on that scale. Manga from the Floating World demonstrates that scholarship has advanced to the point that this now is possible. Kern's book rivals Darnton's. As one of Enjiro's savvy cronies might have said to the author: "Arigatayama!" (Melinda Takeuchi Impressions 2007-12-01)

About the Author

Adam L. Kern is Associate Professor of Japanese Literature at Harvard University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Asia Center; annotated edition edition (December 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674022661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674022669
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,947,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By W. Chang VINE VOICE on July 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A scholarly book on the pre-cursor of present-day Japanese manga. Hey, if it's from the Harvard East Asian Center, you can't expect a leisure reading of a Time-Life edition on the topic. A well-researched book based on numerous primary Japanese sources, it weighs almost five pounds. Many interesting woodblock prints that shed lights on the daily living of the Edo period. Almost a five stars effort - but the annotations of the three primary works are located separately from the pictorial prints, which makes it awfully difficult to go back and forth between the pictures and the annotations, especially when the book weighs as much as it does. Otherwise, a pioneer work on the subject for which Mr. Kern should be well applauded.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rare and comprehensive look into the real orgins of comics in Japan. This long overdue study is magnificently illustrated and annotated with brilliant essays on the history of Kibyoshibon. Calling these proto-comics manga is a bit of a stretch, but then kibyoshibon were always a medium that invited exaggeration.
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