March 4, 2014/ 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

UCLA Bunche Hall, Room 10383 Los Angeles CA

Traversing the Frontier: The Man'yōshū Account of a Japanese Mission to Silla in 736-737

A Colloquium with Professor H. Mack Horton, University of California, Berkeley

In the summer of 736, an embassy from the Japanese court sailed to the Korean kingdom of Silla. The journey was not a success; according to the account in the official history, the Shoku Nihongi, the envoys returned six months later to report that they had been rebuffed by the Silla court and that the ambassador had died at Tsushima on the way home. The topic of Mack Horton’s Traversing the Frontier is a sequence of one hundred and forty five poems about this journey collected in volume XV of the eighth-century poetry anthology Man’yōshū (Collection of Myriad Ages). The “traversing” of the book’s title has a threefold meaning: in its first sense it refers to the embassy’s actual journey to the foreign kingdom of Silla, in its second to the poetic journey represented in the Man’yōshū, and in a third to the boundaries between historical events and literary writing: the “frontier” where, to quote from the book’s epigraph, “the imagination presses back against the pressure of reality.”


About the speaker:

H. Mack Horton is professor of premodern Japanese language and literature at the University of California Berkeley. He specializes in classical poetry and diary literature, focusing on issues of performativity, cultural context, and poetics. Other publications include Song in an Age of Discord: The Journal of Sôchô and Poetic Life in Late Medieval Japan (Stanford University Press, 2002), and its companion volume The Journal of Sôchô (Stanford University Press, 2002). He is also the translator of ten books on Japanese literature, history, and architecture.


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Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies