Realms Of Literacy: Early Japan And The History Of Writing (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Realms Of Literacy: Early Japan And The History Of Writing (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Realms of Literacy: Early Japan and the History of Writing (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Drawing on varied archaeological and archival sources, David B. Lurie highlights the diverse modes and uses of writing that coexisted in Japan between the first and eighth centuries. This book illuminates not only the textual practices of early Japanese civilization but also the comparative history of writing and literacy in the ancient world.

Review
This fascinating, erudite book considers the nature of literacy and the relationship between written and spoken language while exploding myths and fallacies about the development of writing in ancient Japan. In painstaking detail (and lucid prose), Lurie explores a wide range of complex developments as Korean scribes and then the Japanese themselves adapted the Chinese writing system to fulfill a variety of orthographic needs, especially during the mid- to late seventh century. From talismanic signs to baggage tags, from doodling to diplomatic messages, from reference works and record keeping to poetry and politically motivated official histories, the author examines a vast amount of material, analyzing the ways logography and phonography were deployed to varying effects. He shows how the flexibility of the common practice of kundoku (reading by gloss)--i.e.,...

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