The collection Genre in Oriental Literature contains papers by reseacrh fellows of a number of educational and academic institutions of Moscow, under the general supervision of the Institute of World Literature, RAS, and discusses the very important and urgent problem of genre attribution of various works of Oriental literature in correlation with the standard concept of genre accepted in European philology. The book’s contributors strive to find both similarities and differences in varying reasons for distinguishing and demarcating genres in the Orient and in Europe, to grasp the diverse approaches to distinguishing genres practiced by representatives of individual Oriental traditions and by European researchers.
The collection opens with an essay by A. S. Balakovskaya (Institute of World Literature Russian Academy of Sciences), “From Encomium to Biography: The Genre Traits of Hagiographic Works in Honor of John Chrysostom (the 5th–10th centuries),” which, on the basis of copious data, presents literary process in its historical development. To be exact, the paper traces the development of the hagiographic genre from the Funeral Speech by Martyrius of Antioch to the Dialogue by Palladius (intended for the “life” of Pseudo-George) in a form making it easy for the reader to visualize the entire evolution of the genre clearly.
In her “The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons (Wen xin diao long) by Liu Xie,” L. V. Stezhenskaya (Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Institute of Far Eastern Studies) analyzes the literary-historical work of an early medieval theoretician, critic and literary historian from the standpoint of understanding the notion of “genre.” She has also undertaken an attempt to describe, in the form of a survey, the views of Russian Sinologists on the problem of genre in classical Chinese literature.
The Japanese genre otogi-zoshi, which belongs to the Muromachi period (1336–1573) and tends to be interpreted rather loosely as regards its genre attribution as it includes a motley variety of works of both “high” and “low” genres, is the subject of research by M. V. Toropygina (Institute оf Oriental Studies Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of National Research University “Higher School of Economics”).
The traditional poetic genre, which is the most popular one in Japan, is the subject of E. M. Dyakonova’s (Institute of World Literature Rassian Academy of Sciences) contribution, “The Genesis and the Principal Features of the Japanese haiku Genre.” The unusual nature of its origin lies in its lineage: it developed in the 15th century from the classical five-line 31-syllable tanka (“short poem”) genre under the influence of yet another genre, renga (“collaborative poetry”).
“On the History of haiku in Latin America” by M. F. Nadyarnykh (Institute of World Literature Russian Academy of Sciences) is a work complementary to the preceding article by E. M. Dyakonova, since it treats the problem of transferring and “cultivating” an “alien” Oriental genre on the Latin Americal soil.
In her paper “On Some Rhetorical Genres in Modern Japan,” L.M. Yermakova (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Ritsumeikan University) considers some original fluctuations of old genres (the norito prayers) and the emergence of entirely new genres in the 20th-century Japan.
The two articles by E. N. Afanasyeva (Institute of World Literature Russian Academy of Sciences) discuss the forming and functioning of the epic sepha genre in Thailand and the history of the genre of didactic novella nithan in Laos.
“The Genre of ‘Learned Treatise’ in Classical Persian Prose: Formulationg the Problem” is an article by N. Yu. Chalisova (Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of National Research University “Higher School of Economics”). It deals with medieval Persian works composed in New and Classical Persian in Iran after the coming of Islam and interpreting diverse “sciences.”
In her “Autobiographical Narrative in Classical Persian Literature,” E. L. Nikitenko (Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies of National Research University “Higher School of Economics”) writes about works composed in Arabic and Persian in the “story-about-myself” genre (the 16th century) and about the emergence of biography from poetical genres.
This collective monograph was prepared within the framework of the international project "French and French-language manuscripts in Russia (XVIII-early XX century)", which was aimed at studying the culture of bilingualism in Russia, introducing unknown or forgotten authors and their works stored unpublished in the archive, and researching small genres (albums, letters, collections of French quotations, which, in addition to the educational task, could hide a camouflaged autobiography), studying the conquest of the literary market by Russian writers in France and French writers in Russia.