Title

Review Of "Themes, Scenes, And Taste In The History Of Japanese Garden Art" By W. Kuitert

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

12-1-1988

Published In

Choice

Abstract

The thesis of this book is trite but true. Kuitert says that whereas the garden of the Heian aristocracy, concerned with poetic evocation, was "thematic" in function, and the court garden of the Muromachi, inspired by Southern Sung painting, was, instead, "scenic" (i.e., pictorial) even if abstract, the garden in the 17th century, notably in the context of the tea ceremony, became a vehicle of self-conscious aesthetic exercise. That is, a matter of "taste." The source is traced to what Kuitert, a Dutch landscape architect, questionably calls "nature romanticism." The discussion, long on rambling facts and short on arguments, is diffuse and tedious and ultimately superficial despite its scholarly paraphernalia (some 680 notes and more than 360 titles in the bibliography, nearly half in Japanese). Written like a dissertation with historical and literary background that is never quite assimilated in the "interpretations," the book also reads like an unrevised work. The awkward English, edited with little care, is no help; illustrations are limited, and there is no index. Only for special collections.

Comments

This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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