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4 Imperial Historiography and the Narrative Politics of the Jinshin Rebellion

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses the fictional nature of the account and the ways in which imperial historiography is configured as a literary narrative. Historiography itself is in turn subject to the historical process. Although the Nihon shoki's account of the Jinshin Rebellion appears on the surface to make up a unified narrative that has been constructed by the winners, upon closer examination there is an underlying tension concerning the nature and basis of Tenmu's authority throughout the last four volumes of the Nihon shoki. This is most evident in the differences between alternative stories of Tenmu's departure from the Ōmi capital to Yoshino in 672. The chapter shows these different stories form a complex tangle of competing succession narratives that are the expression of a historical process, the political struggles over the nature of Tenmu's legitimacy and the historical record in the early eighth century when the Nihon shoki was compiled.

Keywords: Ōmi capital; imperial historiography; Jinshin Rebellion; literary narrative; Nihon shoki; political struggles; Tenmu's authority; Tenmu's legitimacy; Yoshino



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