This book examines Japanese culture of the Muromachi epoch (14-16 centuries) with Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481) as its focal point. Ikkyu's contribution to the culture of his time was all-embracing and unique. He can be called the embodiment of his era, given that all the features typical for the Japanese culture of the High Middle Ages were concentrated in his personality. This multidisciplinary study of Ikkyu's artistic, religious, and philosophical heritage reconstructs his creative mentality and his way of life. The aesthetics and art of Ikkyu are shown against a broad historical background. Much emphasis is given to Ikkyu's interpretation of Zen. The book discusses in great detail Ikkyu's religious and ethical principles, as well as his attitude towards sex, and shows that his rebellious and icoclastic ways were deeply embedded in the tradition. The book pulls together materials from cultural and religious history with literary and visual artistic texts, and offers a multifaceted view on Ikkyu, as well as on the cultural life of the Muromachi period. This approach ensures that the book will be interesting for art historians, historians of literature and religion, and specialists in cultural and visual studies.
Evgeny Steiner received his PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Since the early 1990s, he has taught and conducted research in the field of Japanese and Russian cultural studies at various universities, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Sophia University, Tokyo; Meiji Gakuin University, Yokohama; New York University; State University of New York; and the University of Manchester. From 2007-09, he was a Senior Research Associate at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (Norwich-London). He has served as a Professorial Research Associate at the Japan Research Centre of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, since 2008, and has been a Professor of the National Research University - Higher School of Economics, Moscow, since 2012. He is a recipient of numerous fellowships and grants from institutions such as Pew Trust (USA), Leverhulme Trust (UK), Wingate Scholars (UK), NEH (USA), and Japan Foundation (Japan). He published numerous articles and about ten books including Stories for Little Comrades: Revolutionary Artists in the Early Soviet Children's Book; Without Mt. Fuji: Japanese Images & Imaginations; Japanese Prints in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (as editor), Vols. 1-2; a translation of, and introduction to, Victory over the Sun; and Orientalism/Occidentalism: Languages of Culture vs. Languages of Description. He currently shares his time between Moscow, London and Paris.