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Actors' Analects

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The Actors' Analects (役者論語, Yakusha Rongo) is a collection of 17th and early 18th century writings on the practice and aesthetics of acting in Japan's kabuki theatre form, compiled during or around the Genroku era (1688-1704). Though not providing much direct information about the origins or history of the development of kabuki in prior periods, the works collected were written at a time when many of the standards of kabuki were being established and formalized; the work thus reflects the philosophies and aesthetics of one of kabuki's most formative periods. One of the earliest extant versions was originally published in 1776, as a set of woodblock printed books in four volumes. It is unclear whether the Analects were printed as a collection before this time, but references to the "seven writings" indicate that the works were considered together as a group, even if they were not published in such a fashion, since their creation in the early 18th century. Some of the works collected in the Analects were also printed separately, or along with other works, such as scripts for non-kabuki plays, or various other writings on advice for actors and the like. Some of these separate printings indicate that the versions found in the collected Analects are either incomplete versions, or evolved, revised versions of the original works. The English-language title derives from the fact that 論語 (Rongo in Japanese) is the original Chinese name for what is known in English as the Analects of Confucius.
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original title: 役者論語 (''Yakusha Rongo'')
date of publication: 1776
main subject: kabuki

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