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Buson, The Bunjin (Literati), And The Bashō Revival

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Chapter Summary

Yosa Buson earned most of his income from painting rather than writing, so a good way to start exploration of his work is with a brief consideration his work as a painter. As a painter he was at the center of a development that was to have a powerful impact on his haikai and the discourse of the Bashō Revival as a whole. This development was the rise of the ideal of the cultivated amateur, or bunjin, which allowed artists to simultaneously work as professionals yet appear to transcend the corrupting influences of profit. Haikai history begins with waka written in a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. Waka enjoyed enormous prestige because of its association with aristocrats and the imperial court of the Nara and Heian periods. During the decade between the eightieth and ninetieth anniversaries of Bashō's death, the movement was at its zenith.

Keywords: Bashō revival; bunjin; haikai history; waka; Yosa Buson



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