Literature in No Drama Essay example

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By nature, Japanese No drama draw much of their inspiration and influence from the classics. Many are based on episodes from the most popular classics, like Atsumori, based on the Tale of Heike, or Matsukaze, which was actually based on a collage of earlier work. Even within these episodes do we find references to yet more classic works of literature, from the oldest collections of poetry to adopted religious texts. That isn’t to say that No is without its own strokes of creativity—the entire performance is a unique adaptation, and the playwrights had to be both highly educated in the classics, yet geniuses at the creative aspect of weaving song/poetry, dance, religion and literature together into a heart-wrenching spectacle.
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However, Matsukaze’s story is not based on any single work of literature, although there are many allusions to the chapter of Tale of Genji when he is exiled to Suma. The location is crucial, because it was in his exile at Suma that Genji took up with the Akashi Lady, and left her his hunting cloak, just as Yukihira did for the sisters. Besides Tale of Genji, Yukihira, the lover who left the two sisters behind in the No play, was a popular heroic character for storytelling, as he was the renowned poet Narihira’s older brother and a poet himself. He was a character in the play “Shiokumi,” which has not survived into the modern era, but what is known of this play is that it did have a great influence on Zeami’s Matsukaze. Yukihira appeared in this play, and it is about the lives of saltmakers, which the sisters are supposed to be. Also, in one story in the “Senjusho,” Yukihira is an exiled heroic character who stumbles across a diver’s daughter and is enchanted by her. While Zeami’s sisters Autumn Rain and Pining Wind are his own creations, they have similar…