IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship: Volume 6 – Issue 1
Editor: Richard Donovan, Kansai University, Japan
Published: November 30, 2017
Introduction to the Issue
I had the opportunity to present recent research at two IAFOR conferences this year: The IAFOR International Conference on Education – Hawaii in Honolulu in January, and The IAFOR International Conference on Global Studies in Barcelona in July. I also attended conferences in Kobe. During the year, I developed the idea to devote my fifth issue of the IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship to East Asian topics, reflecting the origins of the organisation, even as it continues to expand around the world.
I discovered during the editing process that another common thread linking these papers is the inspiration and guidance that foregoing works and authors afford later generations. These chaotic, and yet ever-hopeful, times can only benefit from the lessons of history that our most agile minds continue to draw in the form of such quality pieces as those of the present issue.
This issue, indeed, sees the introduction of what I expect will be an ongoing commitment in the Journal to highlighting the work of new scholars benefitting from the IAFOR Grants and Scholarships that have been made available from this year. These grants and scholarships help a number of young people from around the world to participate in IAFOR conferences, thereby enriching current and future academe.
It is my pleasure to introduce one of the inaugural scholarship recipients, James Kin-Pong Au, who presented a version of the present paper at the 18th Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities. His ambitious, multilingual paper considers the influence of French symbolist poet Rimbaud on the works of two twentieth-century Japanese and Chinese poets.
Our second contributor, Ka Yan Lam, returns us to the topic of historiographic metafiction that was explored in Frederik De Vadder’s paper in the previous issue, and in my own work on the unusual novel preceding this year’s new series of Twin Peaks. Her paper reframes Enchi Fumiko’s Heian-period literary work Namamiko monogatari (A Tale of False Fortunes) as a ground-breaking feminist metafiction.
A perennial topic in this Journal is the writings of Murakami Haruki, and Andrew J. Wilson also begins by looking back, in this case to Kamo no Chōmei’s Kamakura-period memoir An Account of My Hut, for an austere Buddhist counterpoint to Murakami’s collection of short fiction After the Quake, the latter which, he contends, exhibits a humanistic turn towards the family and community in our disaster-fraught and complex modern era.
Our final paper, by Robert Ono, similarly examines the solace, and, beyond that, the potential source of identity, that a literary form of ancient origins offered one of Japan’s most marginalised groups, the patients of its leprosariums, in the form of the tanka, or short poems, they published in the various institutions’ journals in the twentieth century.
Talking of poetry, we end this issue with a literary treat: several standout works from former Journal contributor and long-time collaborator and mentor A. Robert Lee. He has kindly marked this special issue by allowing me to republish five of his Asia-themed long-form poems, some of which have enlivened IAFOR conferences over the past few years. His delight at the endless cultural and linguistic permutations that emanate from a deep engagement with Asian culture is matched by his incisive wit and perceptive eye. Anyone who has lived in Asia, particularly Japan, will read these poems with a powerful sense of recognition of both the potency and the precariousness of the region.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the work of this year’s Editorial Board members, who made a significant contribution to the academic rigour and readability of the papers. Thank you as always.