Kyokutei Bakin

[Over the years in my classrooms, it was hard to miss the fact that students who struggled with reading, particularly the students of Asian Pacific descent I served, would nonetheless exhaust my school library’s supply of anime. In researching this post, I learned that Bakin’s best-known book, Hakkendenhas been adapted to anime. For that reason, I have tagged this as high-interest material.]

“Kyokutei Bakin: (1767-1849) Japanese fiction writer of the late-Tokugawa period. Bakin was among the most gifted writers of his time, and succeeded in establishing himself as a serious writer in an age dominated by the lowbrow entertainment genre of Gesaku. Bakin is best known for an extraordinary tour-de-force, Hakkenden (1814-1832), whose title translates, improbably, as “Eight Canine Biographies.” This high-flown historical romance of noble vengeance, with its thickly applied Confucianist morality of virtue rewarded and vice punished, ranks as Japan’s longest literary narrative. Hakkenden has retained its popularity in contemporary Japan, albeit in abridged modern editions.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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