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The Forty-Seven Ronins – Japan
Introduction
In the Eighth Century A.D. (712) the annals of the chief families of Japan were collected in a work known as the Kojiki, or Record of Ancient Matters. This constituted the first writing of note in Japanese, but it was not until the appearance eight years later of the volume called JVihongi, or Chronicles of Japan, that Japanese literature can be said to have begun.

The Kojiki was in the language of old Japan, while the Nihongi was in the classical Chinese, which superseded the Japanese and was in use until the Seventeenth Century. In the Eighteenth Century Motoori composed a work of forty-four volumes devoted to the elucidation of the Kojiki called Exposition of the Record of Ancient Matters. This has been declared by Chamberlain to be “perhaps the most admirable work of which Japanese erudition can boast.”

The Forty-Seven Ronins – In the first part of the Eleventh Century Murasaki-no-Shikibu, a lady of the great Fujiwara family, composed the Genji Monogatari, the first Japanese novel, a prose epic of contemporary life. Except for some volumes of poetry, among which may be named Hundred Odes by a Hundred Poets in the Thirteenth Century, and Anthologies of the One- and-Twenty Reigns gathered between the Eleventh and the Fifteenth Centuries, which constitute the classics of Japanese poetry, the period was not very productive.

Kiokutei Bakin (1767—1848) and Shikitei Samba (1775—1822) are authors whose fame has reached Europe. Both have written delightful stories of modern Japanese life. These, however, are for the most part too long for consideration here.

Japanese literature is rich in folk-tales, some of which have been translated by Lafcadio Hearn—but on the whole these belong rather to the category of folk lore than to that of narrative fiction.
During the golden era which began in the Seventeenth and extended into the Eighteenth Century, the drama and the novel flourished, but the short story was evidently neglected by serious artists. The Forty- Seven Ronins, the most famous story of the period, was never intended as a story at all, but an episode from history.

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 13

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And when they came to their lord`s grave they took the head of Kot- suk£ no Suke, and, having washed it clean in a well hard by, laid it as an offering before the...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 12

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As they were on their way to Takanawa, the suburb in which the temple called Sengakuji stands, the day broke; and the people flocked out to see the forty-seven men, who, with their clothes...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 11

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But Jiutaro wrested the dirk from him, and clutching him by the collar, dragged him out of the outhouse. Then the other Ronin came up, and they examined the prisoner attentively, and saw that...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 10

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Spurred by these words, Chikara seized a spear and gave battle to Waku Handaiyu, but could not hold his ground, and backing by degrees, was driven out into the garden, where he missed his...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 9

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Ten of Kotsuke no Suke`s retainers, hearing the noise, woke up; and, drawing their swords, rushed into the front room to defend their master. At this moment the Ronins, who had burst open the...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 8

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When the appointed hour came, the Ronins set forth. The wind howled furiously, and the driving snow beat in their faces; but little cared they for wind or snow as they hurried on their...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 7

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And when at last it became evident from the letters which arrived from Yedo that Kotsuke no Suke was thoroughly off his guard, Kuranosuke rejoiced that the day of vengeance was at hand; and,...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 6

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“Trouble me not,” replied Kuranosuke, “for I will not listen to your whining. Since my way of life is displeasing to you, I will divorce you, and you may go about your business; and...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 5

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Now amongst these retainers was his principal councilor, a man called Oishi Kuranosuke, who with forty-six other faithful dependents formed a league to avenge their master`s death by killing Kotsukd no Suke.This Oishi Kuranosuke...

The Forty-Seven Ronins part 4

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Shortly after this Takumi no Kami, who had sent no present, arrived at the castle, and Kotsuke no Suke turned him into ridicule even more than before, provoking him with sneers and covered insults;...