the universe’s most complicated analysis of samurai social structure

04Jan10

seriously, this book (The Taming of the Samurai by Eiko Ikegami) has to be the most difficult read i’ve been through in ages (months?).  while she’s undoubtedly well-educated on the subject, i can’t help but think she’s overcomplicating things just a tad.  why use a simple phrase like “samurai honor culture was a product of the medieval Japanese vassalage system” when you could write a chapter about it?  here’s a quote to underline the pain of pounding through this thing:

I wish to set forth three interconnected propositions in order to gain an understanding of the unique course of Japanese state formation from the medieval to the early modern periods: (1) the fact that early modern state formation in Japan was carried out as a consequence of a vertical military consolidation of power (reconstituted vassalage) among the samurai class, through (2) its clashes with horizontal political alliances; and (3) the forced demilitarization and subordination of the nonsamurai population in the process of together explain the unique nature of the early modern shogunate.

Ikegami 1997, p. 37

earful much.  while certainly understandable and informative, it’s all so thick that i can barely focus on this stuff for more than a page or two.  nor does it help that the subject matter, while potentially interesting, comes across as bland and repetitive.  ah well, thankfully this is the last book like this that i have to go through for JP2700, the rest will be cake.  no lie.

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