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Love, Women, and Japanese Literature: The Salvation of Women (Book Review)

The well-known author Saiichi Maruya was also recognized as a scholar of modern British and Irish literature; he translated James Joyce’s Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) and others, but perhaps first among his contributions are his critical works and essays putting forth his theory that Japanese literature began with waka, a traditional poetic form, during the Heian Period (from the 8th to 11th centuries). Koi to Onna to Nihon Bungaku, Onna no Sukuware (『恋と女と日本文学・ 女の救はれ』, Love, Women, and Japanese Literature, The Salvation of Women) is a work of Japanese literary criticism that discusses why the Japanese, since early times, have loved romantic stories, and illustrates a marriage ritual in which a man goes to a woman’s house to give her words of love in the form of waka and finally proposes marriage. The excellent waka considerably appeals to the woman to a greater degree. This discussion of the marriage ritual, called tsumadoi-kon or kayoi-kon, deserves considerable praise.

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