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Do Concepts of Classical Japanese Literary Metaphor Translate?

Posted By admin On May 31, 2013 @ 8:50 am In Abstracts for 2013, Literature and the Arts | Comments Disabled

Stina Jelbring, Senior Lecturer

Department of Oriental Languages

Stockholm University


In classical Japanese poetry (waka) and poetics there is a common terminology using terms based on position or form, as for example the makurakotoba (“pillow-word”), a form of epithet whose name probably refers to the fact that a word was “put on top of” the word that it modified. Such devices also include a potential to create metaphor. On the other hand, functional concepts, such as yu (metaphor, figure), hiyu (simile, metaphor) and names for poetical styles, like soeuta (indirect style), nazuraeuta (figurative style) and tatoeuta (metaphorical style) appear in for instance classical poetics. We may see matters as depending on the choice of terminology based on position/form or function – we may see advantages or disadvantages with either approach. By using terms based on form or position, subtle functional variations may be discerned which might be overlooked by the more general terms, but by employing the general terms, we may see metaphorical expressions in a conceptual and perceptive dimension.

The question is, however, if these concepts of classical Japanese literary metaphor may be comparable to other notions of metaphor, originating outside of this context, and if so, in what way do they relate? Do they translate?

In this paper we shall take a closer look at the way metaphor is described in some seminal works of classical Japanese poetics and how metaphor is created in waka poetry, and put this in contrast to concepts outside of this context. With the classical Japanese literary context as point of departure, different concepts of literary metaphor originating within and outside of the Japanese classical literary context shall meet in a comparative poetics discussion.


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URL to article: http://www.najaks.org/?p=1040