Emperor of Japan Meiji and His World, 1852-1912

ISBN-10: 0231123418
ISBN-13: 9780231123419
Edition: 2005
List price: $29.95 Buy it from $3.20
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Description: When Emperor Meiji began his rule, in 1867, Japan was a splintered empire, dominated by the shogun and the daimyos, who ruled over the country's more than 250 decentralized domains and who were, in the main, cut off from the outside world, staunchly  More...

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Book details

List price: $29.95
Copyright year: 2005
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 6/14/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 928
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 2.00" tall
Weight: 2.860
Language: English

When Emperor Meiji began his rule, in 1867, Japan was a splintered empire, dominated by the shogun and the daimyos, who ruled over the country's more than 250 decentralized domains and who were, in the main, cut off from the outside world, staunchly antiforeign, and committed to the traditions of the past. Before long, the shogun surrendered to the emperor, a new constitution was adopted, and Japan emerged as a modern, industrialized state. Despite the length of his reign, little has been written about the strangely obscured figure of Meiji himself, the first emperor ever to meet a European. Most historians discuss the period that takes his name while barely mentioning the man, assuming that he had no real involvement in affairs of state. Even Japanese who believe Meiji to have been their nation's greatest ruler may have trouble recalling a single personal accomplishment that might account for such a glorious reputation. Renowned Japan scholar Donald Keene sifts the available evidence to present a rich portrait not only of Meiji but also of rapid and sometimes violent change during this pivotal period in Japan's history. In this vivid and engrossing biography, we move with the emperor through his early, traditional education; join in the formal processions that acquainted the young emperor with his country and its people; observe his behavior in court, his marriage, and his relationships with various consorts; and follow his maturation into a "Confucian" sovereign dedicated to simplicity, frugality, and hard work. Later, during Japan's wars with China and Russia, we witness Meiji's struggle to reconcile his personal commitment to peace and his nation's increasingly militarized experience of modernization. Emperor of Japan conveys in sparkling prose the complexity of the man and offers an unrivaled portrait of Japan in a period of unique interest.

Donald Keene was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 18, 1922. He received a bachelor's degree in 1942, a master's degree in 1947, and a doctoral degree in 1951 from Columbia University. During World War II, he served as an intelligence officer in the Navy and worked translating for Japanese prisoners. He taught at Columbia University for 56 years and was named the Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature in 1986 and University Professor Emeritus. Keene is considered to be a "Japanologist". He has written, translated, or edited numerous books in both Japanese and English on Japanese literature and culture including The Pleasures of Japanese Literature, Essays in Idleness, So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers, Three Plays of Kobo Abe, Twenty Plays of the No Theater, and The Breaking Jewel. His awards include the Kikuchi Kan Prize of the Society for the Advancement of Japanese Culture, the Japan Foundation Prize and the Tokyo Metropolitan Prize. Soon after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Keene retired and moved to Japan with the intention of living out the remainder of his life there. He acquired Japanese citizenship, and adopted a Japanese legal name. This required him to relinquish his American citizenship, as Japan does not permit dual citizenship.

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