GENERAL REMARKS: CLASSICAL AND MODERN
The vast amount of scholarly research published each year on all periods of Japanese literature makes "keeping up" a daunting task, even for the most assiduous of bibliographers. One of the major ills that plagues the academic world in Japan is the fact that much of the latest scholarship, often of the highest quality, lies buried and inaccessible in the pages of the myriad kiyô and journals published by various universities and institutions. For a start, however, the following hints should be useful.
Depending on your object, there are several paths to be followed in undertaking a bibliographic search. If you are beginning work with a particular text you haven't encountered before, and need to start from square one, the following steps should be useful.
1. Look up the work and author in the Iwanami Nihon koten bungaku daijiten, for a quick overview; for a more extensive overview, turn to Kenkyû shiryô Nihon koten bungaku.
2. Go to the most recent special edition on the text in question in either Kokubungaku: kaishaku to kanshô or Kokubungaku: Kaishaku to kyôzai no kenkyû journals.
3. Look at the essays and bibliographies in the appropriate volume of standard compendia such as Shin koten bungaku taikei, Shin Nihon koten bungaku taikei, Shinpen Nihon koten bungaku zenshû, Nihon koten bungaku taikei and Nihon koten bungaku zenshû.
4. Look at literary histories such as the Shinpen Nihon bungakushi or Nihon bungeishi, which provide context and bibliographic information.
5. If you are short on time or interest, try the appropriate hikkei (research guide, usually put out by Gakutōsha) for a quick and convenient overview of recent criticism (or look in the Shin koten bungaku kenkyû hikkei).
6. You may also want to look at the appropriate volume, if available, of the Nihon bungaku kenkyû shiryô sôsho(Yûseidô, 1969–), which provide collections of selected articles on particular genres, authors, or works, and include useful bibliographies and histories of research.
7. For more in depth searches, scan the pages of the Kokubungaku nenkan, issued annually, being sure to glance at the first section which provides useful summaries of developments by period.
8. If you want a digest along with excerpts from major texts, you may want to use Kanshô Nihon koten bungaku and/or the Kenkyû shiryô Nihon koten bungaku, both of which contain extensive excerpts from the text, connected by summaries of excised portions, and accompanied by modern translation, glossary, and commentary.
9. Japanese Literature in Foreign Languages: 1945‑1990 can help you find translations into Western languages. More detailed English‑language literary history can be found in Donald Keene's series: Seeds in the Heart and World Within Walls. For the most recent English-language bibliography, see Haruo Shirane, ed., Early Modern Japanese Literature, An Anthology, 1600-1900 (Columbia University Press, 2004), and Shirane, ed., Traditional Japanese Literature, An Anthology: Beginnings to 1600 (Columbia University Press, 2006).
There are several importance resources for research on modern Japanese literature. For scholarship old and new, the most important bibliography is the series beginning with Kokugo kokubun kenkyû zasshi sakuin, which covers both classical and modern literature. With the exception of the years 1932‑37, this series indexes both journal articles and monographs. For monthly prose descriptions of literature trends and issues, Bungei nenkan (annual from 1949) is also very useful.
Scholars of contemporary literature should be aware of several important journals such as Gendai shisô (Call no.: B804 .G451), Hihyô kûkan (Call no.: PN80 .H54), Gunzô (Call no.: AC95 .J3 G8), Bungei (Call no.: PL700 .B843), Shinchô (PL700 .S4), and Yuriika (PL731 .Y8), which publish new literature and some literary and cultural criticism. Some of these such as Hihyø kūkan have been discontinued.
To locate primary texts in the zenshû of individual writers, you should turn to the Gendai Nihon bungaku sôran shiriizu (M/S X‑6). For translations into European languages, the most complete index is the Japan P.E.N. Club's Modern Japanese Literature in Translation, 1945‑1990. For translations into Japanese of Western works, use the Meiji Taishô Shôwa hon'yaku bungaku mokuroku. For quick reference, the Shinchô Nihon bungaku jiten is an essential desktop tool. For more detailed information on individual authors, however, the single‑volume edition of Kôdansha's Kindai Nihon bungaku daijiten is more complete. In English, there is always Donald Keene's encyclopedic Dawn to the West, which has an excellent index for quick facts.
For more in depth searches, scan the pages of the Kokubungaku nenkan, issued annually, being sure to glance at the first section which provides useful summaries of developments by period. For developments in contemporary literature, the Bungei nenkan, also issued annually, is very useful.
- The catalogue numbers (Call no.) are those found in C.V. Starr Library, Columbia University.
- The asterisks (**) placed next to certain bibliographic entries indicate that these are particularly important or highly recommended references.