Review Of "Traditional Japanese Arts And Culture: An Illustrated Sourcebook" Edited By S. Addiss, G. Groemer, And J. T. Rimer

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In Japan, very characteristically, various cultural endeavors--visual, literary, performing, decorative, and building arts--not only intersect but are often inextricably layered, and this tendency is a historically enduring phenomenon. For this reason, collating primary documents on these diverse subjects as this volume does is a commendable contribution. To contextualize the excerpts, the editors provide commentaries. These as well as the cited sources, some brief, others lengthy, also vary in usefulness. Predictably, The Tale of Genji is heavily relied on, Sakuteiki on the garden and Zeami on Nō drama receive ample attention, and such notions as aware, yūgen, and wabi are adequately explicated. Where there is paucity of documents (as on architecture), illustrations, thoughtfully selected and commented on, compensate for them, and the bibliography includes a thorough list of Japanese titles. Sources in translation, however, by definition disappoint scholars who can handle the original text and they frustrate initiates without a solid repertory of works as reference. The editors met the challenge bravely and produced a useful book, if for a limited readership. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


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