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Good Dogs: Edification, Entertainment, and Kyokutei Bakin's Nansō Satomi hakkenden

186 Walley Good Dogs
Glynne Walley
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About the Author

Glynne Walley received an MA in Japanese Literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2001 and a PhD in Japanese Literature from Harvard University in 2009.  His research interests involve popular literature and how it negotiates the requirements of industry and genre, the demands of a mass audience, and the aspirational pull of “serious” literature.  His main focus is popular fiction of the late Tokugawa period;  his current book project concerns the early 19th-century adventure novel Nansō Satomi hakkenden (Eight Dogs of the Satomi Clan of Southern Kazusa) by Kyokutei Bakin. Professor Walley's teaching interests focus on Japanese literature of the early modern (Edo or Tokugawa) period, but also include medieval literature, modern literature, visual culture, comics broadly defined (from medieval picture scrolls to contemporary manga), and translation studies.

Good Dogs explores the intersection of didacticism, Chinese vernacular scholarship, social criticism, and commercial storytelling in late Tokugawa Japan through an examination of a masterpiece of 19th century popular fiction:  the novel Nansō Satomi hakkenden (The Lives of the Eight Dogs of the Satomi of Southern Kazusa; for short, Hakkenden), serialized from 1814 to 1842 by Kyokutei Bakin (1767-1848). The author argues that in Bakin’s hands, popular fiction functioned to mobilize and hybridize high culture and low, official and heterodox ideologies, and the demands of both the moralist and the marketplace. Good Dogs begins with detailed examinations of Hakkenden as, in turn, a work of gesaku (popular fiction);  an adaptation and critique of the Chinese vernacular novel Shuihu zhuan (J. Suikoden, The Water Margin);  and an exercise in kanzen chōaku, “encouraging virtue and chastising vice.” Then it explores how the novel’s blend of didacticism and playfulness destabilizes the putatively moral categories of gender, species, and social class, while foregrounding an image of moral agency that prefigures modern individualism. Good Dogs combines close readings of Hakkenden with a consideration of the novel’s place in 19th-century Japan (including its Meiji reception), as well as its place in East Asian vernacular fiction. | 496 pages


1 Puppy Love: How to Read Hakkenden?

2 Horse Play: Popular Fiction and the Early Modern Novel

3 Dog Stars: Adaptation for Fun and Profit

4 Monsters of Virtue: Didacticism and Criticism

5 What Are Little Boys/Girls Made Of? Gender and Virtue in Eight Dogs

6 The “Way of Beasts” and the Way of the Warrior: Species, Social Class, and Virtue in Eight Dogs

7 Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good Dogs? Thinking about Good and Evil

Appendix A Brief Synopsis of the Story


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