Armando Martins Janeira, Japanese and Western Literature, A Comparative Study

Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.
Tóquio, 1970

Japanese and Western Literature, A Comparative Study, ensaio publicado em inglês em 1970 por uma das mais prestigiadas editoras japonesas – a Charles E. Tuttle Company –, foi considerado pelo jornal The Times como «a obra mais notável jamais publicada sobre as relações entre o Japão e o mundo ocidental». Editado posteriormente em japonês, este livro traça o panorama da literatura japonesa e revela os pontos essenciais que caracterizam a tradição literária japonesa. Os seus capítulos XII, XIII e XIV reproduzem uma outra obra de Armando Martins Janeira, The Epic and the Tragic Sense of Life in Japanese Literature, datada de 1969, e aqui apresentada numa versão revista e melhorada.

«What in Japanese culture is fluid and nebulous and in Western culture is profound and immense is the concept of life and consciousness of the value of death. It is not in the divergent concepts of sin that one of the greatest differences between East and West lies; it is in something deeper, of which the extent of sin depends: the reverence for life and the value of death. In the philosophy of Western man, formed by twenty centuries of Christian influence, death is the measure of all things, the absolute, ultimate measure. Death is the tragic limit; it confers to life the highest of values because there is but one life: man has no chances to try to save or redeem himself in future reincarnations. In the East (China, Korea, Japan) death is synonymous with nothingness. In the unfathomable distance between these two opposites live all the great creations of Western and Eastern literature and art.

The sorrow of loss is deeper in the West; the joy of a never-to-be-repeated enlightenment is higher when it is attained. To reach happiness is more difficult, as the way to perfection is steeper and more painful. It is easy to be happy for a Shintoist; his gods are easy to satisfy and do not demand much from men. The Christian God demands from man more than he can reach. Hence the tension of Western man and his anxiety to attain absolute perfection.»

Armando Martins Janeira, Japanese and Western Literature, A Comparative Study

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