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2: Reading Japanese Visual Art and Picture Books

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Chapter Summary

This chapter places the picture books of Miyazawa Kenji's 1920s narratives in the context of Japanese visual culture and reviews the artistic codes, conventions and narrative strategies that are operating in Japanese art and picture books. It also explores the significance of different levels of artistic modality within the Japanese context, making reference to the effects of such modalities in pictorial representations of Miyazawa Kenji's work. In the process, it considers the issue of how the artists, partly because of the subordination of the artwork to the written text, need to find inventive ways to connect with Kenji's fixed narratives. Both cultural and artistic traditions, form the basis of cultural coding and have implications for how the verbal and pictorial interaction in picture books is read. Japanese art is based on conventions of 'truth' that favour the non-representational mode.

Keywords: artistic codes; cultural tradition; Japanese visual art; Miyazawa Kenji; narrative strategies; picture books



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