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[Talk 15]The Stories of Confucius in The Tale of Konjyaku and in Medieval Japan:Balancing between Admiration and Sarcasm


Speaker: GAO, Yang 

Assistant Professor in Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Tsinghua University Ancient Japanese Literature

Abstract:  Through the study of various Confucian stories in The Tale of Konjyaku and other classic works from Medieval Japan, this article shows that, in the Konjyaku, there is a distinct conflict in the attitudes towards Confucius: On the one hand, it was sarcastic to Confucian ideas; on the other hand, it also displays admiration toward Confucius in the use of using honorifics. However, in the ensuing classic works, the image of Confucius had generally been included in Buddhism, turned to the incarnation of Buddhist Bodhisattva, thus somehow resolving the contradiction and conflict in the previous stories. The author believes that this literary phenomenon reflects the traces of cultural development from conflicts and co-existence to final fusion, of Buddhism as Indian culture, Confucianism and Taoism as Chinese culture, and Shintoism as the local culture. Konjyaku Story Collection could be regarded as the dividing line in this change.

Keywords: The Tale of Konjyaku, Confucius, Buddhism, conflicts, incarnation


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