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Twelve Views from the Distance


Twelve Views from the Distance Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From one of the foremost poets in contemporary Japan comes this entrancing memoir that traces a boy’s childhood and its intersection with the rise of the Japanese empire and World War II. Originally published in 1970, this translation is the first available in English.

In twelve chapters that visit and revisit critical points in his boyhood, Twelve Views from the Distance presents a vanished time and place through the eyes of an accomplished poet. Recounting memories from his youth, Mutsuo Takahashi captures the full range of his internal life as a boy, shifting between his experiences and descriptions of childhood friendships, games, songs, and school. With great candor, he also discusses the budding awareness of his sexual preference for men, providing a rich exploration of one man’s early queer life in a place where modern, Western-influenced models of gay identity were still unknown.

Growing up poor in rural southwestern Japan, far from the urban life that many of his contemporaries have written about, Takahashi experienced a reality rarely portrayed in literature. In addition to his personal remembrances, the book paints a vivid portrait of rural Japan, full of oral tradition, superstition, and remnants of customs that have quickly disappeared in postwar Japan. With profuse local color and detail, he re-creates the lost world that was the setting for his beginnings as a gay man and poet.

About the Author

Mutsuo Takahashi is one of Japan’s leading living poets. He has published more than three dozen anthologies of poetry and is a prolific essayist, literary historian, and critic.

Jeffrey Angles is associate professor of modern Japanese literature and translation studies at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature (Minnesota, 2011).

Table of Contents


Note about Japanese Names

Chart of Family Members

Translator’s Introduction

Twelve Views from the Distance

The Snow of Memory

Grandma’s House

Tales of Long Ago

Spirited Away

On Mother’s Back

Heaven and Hell

The Various Types of Sea

Princes and Paupers

The Shore of Sexuality

Skies of Blood

Imagining Father

Communities outside the World

Afterword to the English Translation


English Translations of Mutsuo Takahashi’s Writing

Translator’s Acknowledgments

Product Details

Takahashi, Mutsuo
University of Minnesota Press
Angles, Jeffrey
World History-Japan
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 in

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Gay and Lesbian » History and Social Science » History and Biographies
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Japan

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Product details 256 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816679362 Reviews:
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