goukan 合巻
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. combining volumes. Long, complicated revenge stories which required two, three or up to ten booklets, that were sewn together and placed between a cover *hyoushi 表紙. A type of *kusazoushi 草双紙 which followed the development of the *kibyoushi 黄表紙, but also considered to be part of the larger genre of popular fiction known as gesaku 戯作 (the term originally meant "written for fun" and the genre displays a facetious but sophisticated style). Earlier kusazoushi had consisted of booklets of five folded doubled pages (folios) which were sold in sets of two or three. As a result of the Kansei 寛政 Reforms, which began in 1787, the content of kusazoushi changed from humourous material to instructional or edifying materials. The resulting complexity of the plots led to longer stories and a change in the binding of the books. Goukan appeared mainly from the end of the Kyouwa 享和 era (1801-4). The word itself was included with the title of the 1804 publication TOUKAIDOU MATSU NO SHIRANAMI 東海道松之白浪 by Shunsuitei Genkou or Motoyoshi 春水亭元好 with illustrations by Utagawa Toyokuni 歌川豊国 (1769-1825), Zenbu jissatsu goukan 全部十冊合巻 (goukan in ten booklets). Authors of goukan included Shikitei Sanba 式亭三馬 (1776-1822), who was known for his *kokkeibon 滑稽本 and Ryuutei Tanehiko 柳亭種彦 (1783-1842), who is best known for his 1829 NISE MURASAKI INAKA GENJI 偐紫田舎源氏 (The False Murasaki and Rustic Genji) with illustrations by Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞 (1786-1864). Jippensha Ikku 十返舎一九 (1765-1831) also wrote some 360 goukan. The period from 1804-1844 is thought to be the golden age of the goukan. The contents of the developed goukan ranged from revenge stories to ideas taken from *kabuki 歌舞伎, to love stories. Advancements in carving and printing techniques led to the fully color printed cover, and Toyokuni, Kunisada and others created designs for the illustrations as well as for the covers and slip covers into which these books were placed. The designs were printed in a variety of colors with fine details. The affixed titles *harigedai 貼外題 of the books were woodblock printed in color and the *mikaeshi 見返 (frontispiece) and slip covers into which the books were placed were also elaborately color printed. There were also various clever devices, such as the picture of an actor which would turn into a different design when one turned the page. Goukan led into the development of the *yomihon 読本. The goukan remained popular well into in the Meiji period, but then died out due to the rise of newspapers and other reading material.


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