A. Critical and Comparative Studies

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59. Kodama, Sanehide. American Poetry and Japanese Culture. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, Shoe String, 1984.

An attempt to bring up to date the history of Japanese influence in American poetry, useful in part for its thoroughgoing acquaintance with Japanese scholarship. Corrects several errors in Durnell (A55) and is altogether a more successful work. Begins with historical background and discussion of the use of Japanese subjects and materials in Whitman and Longfellow (see CA1) and Lowell and Crapsey (see CA4). Material on Fenollosa, Pound, and Fenollosa’s notebooks is especially distinguished, the first detailed examination by a scholar who reads Chinese, Japanese, and English and has examined the notebooks. Shows that Fenollosa’s Chinese translations ‘contain almost exact, literal renderings of the original Chinese poems’, and attempts with some success to defend Pound against accusations of incompetence resulting from his handling of the material. Discussion of Rexroth’s use of Japanese materials (see CA13 and 14d) is likewise insightful, and a section on Snyder (see CA14e) contains useful information. Includes ‘General Observations’, ‘Amy Lowell and Adelaide Crapsey’, ‘Ezra Pound’, ‘Kenneth Rexroth’, and ‘Gary Snyder and Other Poets’. Incorporates ‘Pound no nazo to Fenollosa MSS no hakken’ (The enigma of Pound and the discovery of Fenollosa’s manuscripts), Eigo seinen 115 (1969): 234-37; ‘Amerika bungaku ni okeru Nippon tono setten: Ezra Pound no Cantos o megutte’ (A meeting point of American literature and Japan: Pound’s Cantos), Dôshisha America kenkyû 12 (1976): 51-64; ‘The Eight Scenes of Shô-Shô’, Paideuma 6 (1977): 131-45; ‘Amerika no shi to Nippon bunka: Amy Lowell no baai’ (American poetry and Japanese culture: the case of Amy Lowell), Shuryû 39 (1978): 33-47; ‘Kenneth Rexroth and Japan: A Homage from the Far East’ (in For Rexroth, edited by Geoffrey Gardner, New York: The Ark, 1980); and ‘Gary Snyder no seikai’ (The world of Snyder), Dôshisha joshidaigaku kenkyû nenpô 34/1 (1983): 98-107.

a. Reviews: Kodama’s work was generally well received. Morgan Gibson (Comparative Literature Studies 23 [1986]: 85-90) finds it ‘a triumph of transcultural understanding’; Bert Almon (Western American Literature 21 [1986]: 82-83) suggests that Miner (A25) is ‘stronger on the historical and literary background of Japanese influence’, but commends Kodama’s knowledge of both Japanese and American literary tradition, and believes his work ‘adds to our understanding of an important influence on American poetry’; G. L. Ebersole (Choice 22 [1985]: 1493-94) finds the work an ‘important complement’ to Miner, even if Kodama ‘occasionally . . . overstate[s] the importance’ of the influence; Yoshio Iwamoto (World Literature Today 59 [1985]: 666-67) finds that while ‘neither the subject matter nor the style of [the] book is likely to recommend it to a large literary audience’, it will ‘prove a welcome cornucopia of information’ for specialists; John K. Gillespie (Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 35 [1986]: 171-72) writes that the influence from Japan in American arts and letters has been ‘profound’, and notes that Kodama’s work ‘argues compellingly for this view’, but takes exception to Kodama’s lack of acknowledgement of the role translators have played in making Japanese poetics accessible to English-language poets; Rosaly DeMaios Roffman (Library Journal 109 [1984]: 2151) generally finds the work valuable, but believes that ‘since most knowledge of Japan is acquired either second-hand or through quick visits, the subject of influence becomes complex, and Kodama’s pithy generalizations are occasionally puzzling’; the only generally negative review, by Don L. Cook (American Literature 58 [1986]: 134-36), finds that Kodama’s work ‘disappoints expectation’ largely because it fails to offer an ‘integrated view’ of the influence, and relies on ‘isolated literary texts that have been translated, quoted, paraphrased or paralleled in American poems’. A brief notice appeared as well in American Notes & Queries 23 (1984): 53.





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