Old Taoist

Old Taoist: The Life, Art, and Poetry of Kodôjin (1865-1944)

Stephen Addiss
Translations of and Commentary on Chinese Poems by Jonathan Chaves
With an Essay by J. Thomas Rimer
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Old Taoist
    Book Description:

    In the literary and artistic milieu of early modern Japan the Chinese and Japanese arts flourished side by side. Kodôjin, the "Old Taoist" (1865-1944), was the last of these great poet-painters in Japan. Under the support of various patrons, he composed a number of Taoist-influenced Chinese and Japanese poems and did lively and delightful ink paintings, continuing the tradition of the poet-sage who devotes himself to study of the ancients, lives quietly and modestly, and creates art primarily for himself and his friends.

    Portraying this last representative of a tradition of gentle and refined artistry in the midst of a society that valued economic growth and national achievement above all, this beautifully illustrated book brings together 150 of Kodôjin's Chinese poems (introduced and translated by Jonathan Chaves), more than 100 of his haiku and tanka (introduced and translated by Stephen Addiss), and many examples of his calligraphy and ink paintings. Addiss's in-depth introduction details the importance of the poet-painter tradition, outlines the life of Kodôjin, and offers a critical appraisal of his work, while J. Thomas Rimer's essay puts the literary work of the Old Taoist in context.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50400-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Stephen Addiss
  4. 1 Kodōjin’s Life and Art
    (pp. 1-56)

    Kodōjin was born in the town of Shingū in Wakayama on the seventh day of the second month of 1865, at a time when the Western world was forcing Japan to recognize that it could remain a closed country no longer. Shingū, situated by the ocean near the southern tip of Honshū, is famous primarily for its major Shintō shrine as well as the nearby Nachi Waterfall, also considered sacred in Shintō beliefs. For generations, Kodōjin’s family had served the local feudal han (domain) as police inspectors, but since Kodōjin was a second son, his father Nakamura Jun’ichi allowed him...

  5. 2 Kodōjin’s Japanese Poetry
    (pp. 57-72)
  6. 3 Kodōjin and the T’ao Ch’ien Tradition in Kanshi Poetry
    (pp. 73-88)
    Jonathan Chaves

    Kodōjin was one of the last true masters of kanshi poetry. Kanshi, literally “poetry of the Han land” (i.e., China), is Chinese-language poetry written in the traditional Chinese shih format of four, eight, or more lines with five or seven (more rarely four or six) characters per line throughout the poem. Such poetry had been written by Japanese courtiers as early as the eighth century, and had continued to play a major role in the development of Japanese letters but by the Meiji period (1868–1912) was generally considered to have become obsolete. The leading novelist of the Meiji period,...

  7. 4 Kodōjin’s Chinese Poetry
    (pp. 89-154)
  8. 5 A Note on Kodōjin and the Art and Literature of His Period
    (pp. 155-160)
    J. Thomas Rimer

    Modern Japanese literature and art—at least from our contemporary view at the end of the twentieth century—may appear to many readers, and indeed even to many scholars in Japanese modern studies, as largely a chronicle of an ongoing, often uneasy tussle between Japan’s involvement with the shifting layers of the Western avant-garde and the native sense of tradition and integrity, carried out in the increasingly overwhelming presence of a universalist popular culture in societies around the world. These particular congruencies may also seem to define our particular time. Yet moving back a century and more, it seems true...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 161-164)

    Was Kodōjin ultimately a failure? Half-starving in war-torn Kyoto, his two sons dead, it may have seemed as though the values that had sustained him, the age-old ideals of the literatus, had become meaningless, and indeed he destroyed a great deal of his collected writings before his death in 1944. As J. Thomas Rimer noted, the audience for his work had virtually disappeared, and he may have wondered if any traditional Japanese culture, not merely the literati tradition, would survive as a cultural force after the devastation. As he wrote earlier:

    The decline of the Way, Ah! what can help...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 165-170)
  11. Index
    (pp. 171-173)
  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)