From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A first step toward improvement of this article might be made with slight expansion and reorganization.

  • The introductory paragraph affords an adequate but bare definition. Reference, for example, to the “differentia of variables” cited in Preminger & Brogan, New Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993), p981, would be a reasonable means of presenting a fuller explanation of the formal questions raised by mixed prose-and-verse compositions. I do not have the 2012 4th edition of Princeton at hand but I presume this matter is retained therein and perhaps updated as well.
  • The list of Examples, as it now stands, should probably be reorganized by (a) language of composition, and (b) chronology within the sub-category of language. Dates of composition, too, could be added.
  • The Further reading list might be expanded.

Are there any objections to proceeding with this?Tristan noir (talk) 04:57, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

The Tale of Genji[edit]

I know that technicallyin one sense any work that combines poetry and prose is prosimetrum, so the Genji does technicallykind of qualify, but I'm concerned that classifying it as "prosimetrum" in this context might be problematic. All in all the poetry accounts for probably less than 1% of the text; the poetry is not so much a "real-world" narrative device used by the author; but rather one aspect of the characters in the text; and if the text has not been explicitly called prosimetrum in a secondary source, it might qualifyprobably qualifies as original research for Wikipedia to unilaterally apply that name to it. Anyone have any opinions about this? As far as inclusion of poetry in a fundamentally prose narrative goes, Genji is probably less prosimetrum than The Lord of the Rings. elvenscout742 (talk) 02:58, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

I tend to agree. It's perhaps a good thing to expand the range of examples beyond the Latin/Western examples that were originally in the article; but unless reliable sources specifically characterize a particuar work as a prosimetrum, it's definitely OR to include the work here. Also, the examples are just that—examples—and there's a danger of the article's becoming nothing more than a list of every prose work with embedded poems that anyone can think of. In my experience (which is admittedly that of a student of the European Middle Ages), the term is used primarily to describe works such as Boethius' Consolation, where the "narrative" is conducted in alternating passages of prose and poetry. Frankly, I'd be disinclined to apply the term even to the Convivio (pace Dronke), which is a fundamentally different kind of work (poetry + commentary and explication). On the other hand, from what I know of the Thousand and One Nights, I'd say that it almost certainly qualifies. Deor (talk) 13:47, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
I honestly haven't come across the term much in Japanese studies, but apparently at least one book (Prosimetrum: Crosscultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose and Verse) contains an essay by Helen McCullough (a "celebrity" in western studies of Japanese literature). But the free preview available on Google books seems to indicate that McCullough herself avoids the term "prosimetrum" -- she just wrote an essay on "combinations of prose and poetry in classical Japanese literature" for a book that has "prosimetrum" in the title. Another problem is that the article currently applies the term to the Kojiki, which is a historical work that cites folk-songs (not literary "poems", per se). The "article" as it stands now is basically a list, with a one-sentence definition at the top. An expansion of the list under these circumstances could be problematic. Unfortunately, while I could expand the material to discuss Japanese "prosimetra" it would be completely OR. According to the article, The Princeton Encyclopedia apparently states that prosimetrum is widely found in eastern and western literature -- can someone provide a quotation or something more specific?
(Related to your Convivio issue, the article currently located at Tanka prose quotes a book that claims the Man'yōshū, an anthology of poems that contains irregular comments/headnotes, as a prosimetrum, but we probably can't go by those kind of claims!)
Although according to your definition of alternating prose/poetic narrations, Tales of Ise is a near-perfect fit. Surely a reliable source (is Princeton, apparently a tertiary encyclopedia, good enough?) can be found for this work's inclusion? elvenscout742 (talk) 14:29, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
(I know the article currently cites McCullough's Anthology as a source, but under the circumstances I highly doubt that work actually uses the term "prosimetrum". I placed an order for it on Amazon today, so I'll probably be able to check by the end of the week. elvenscout742 (talk) 14:31, 9 October 2012 (UTC))
My copy of the Princeton Encyclopeda is the 1974 "enlarged edition", which doesn't even have an entry for prosimetrum, so I can't help you with what the newer version says. Deor (talk) 14:39, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
As far as Google Books internal search can be relied upon, McCullough's book contains no instance of the terms prosimetrum, prosimetric or prosimetra. The cited passages from The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics can be viewed in Google Books; given that it accords closely with Harris & Reichl, there is no reason not to accept it as RS. I think the core question is, do we accept the simple definition of prosimetrum as currently presented in the article ("a literary piece that is made up of alternating passages of prose and poetry")? Because if we do, then it is difficult to label as OR an assertion that any piece of literature combining poetry and prose is prosimetrum, even in the absence of an attributable source using the P-word. In other words, if we accept that A=B, is it really OR to assert that B=A? The solution may be to expand the definition in the lead para. I don't have time right now, but will look into this later in the week or at the weekend, but if either of you can research this in the meantime it would be helpful. Thanks. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 19:40, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Could you link the pages where the relevant passages of PEPP can be viewed? I'm unable to find them. Deor (talk) 19:47, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Here - just go to the relevant page numbers. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 20:10, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks (though Brogan's mentioning of Bernardus Silvestrus' De mundi unversitate and Cosmographia as two different works makes one wonder about his knowledge of the subject). Deor (talk) 23:03, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
My concern is that if you attempt to define prosimetrum as something other than quite simply one composition that combines prose and verse then you are engaging in OR. Can anyone cite a RS that offers a counter-definition of the term? Or a RS that presents a more restrictive definition, one that stipulates that a certain percentage of the mixed prose-plus-verse text must be verse? And while I do understand that the term has its origin in the study of Western classics, prosimetrum has long since been adopted for comparative and cross-cultural studies also as the Harris & Reichl source will testify.
There is also the following description of The Comparative Study of Prosimetra conducted at Tohoku University by Sasaki Akio & colleagues. I’ll quote directly from the abstract: The aim of our research is to find out the essense of poetry through the comparative study of prosimetrum form of literary works in various languages and different ages. many works in which prose and poetry coexist and affect each other to produce another artistic quality,are taken up and minutely analyszed. The works studied are: from Japanese literature "Genji Monogatari" and middleancient novels,female diaries, Medieval epics such as "Heike Monogatari","Taiheiki", Basho'sjournals of travels, A.Ueda's "Shiramine", and many novels of Meiji and Taisho Period….
I believe that grab what you can’s focus above on the core question is correct, i.e.,”do we accept the simple definition of prosimetrum as currently presented in the article….? Because if we do, then it is difficult to label as OR an assertion that any piece of literature combining poetry and prose is prosimetrum, even in the absence of an attributable source using the P-word.” Lacking any RS with a more restrictive definition, a fair and accurate description of any text that combines verse and prose is prosimetric, “even in the absence of an attributable source using the P-word.” Tristan noir (talk) 01:48, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I need to post this here again for clarity, as Tristan noir's statement on the dispute resolution noticeboard indicates that (s)he has not noticed my comment below. I have already cited a more restrictive definition, as given by Brogan (this article's most-cited source, and the source of the only part of the article that I personally have issue with at the moment). I have also cited a portion of Cross-Cultural Perspectives that points out that the reason no one in practice refers to the Bible as a prosimetrum is that the poetry is an insignificant part of the text, and was not composed by the same person as the prose. The same could be said of the Kojiki. That is why no reliable sources call the Kojiki a prosimetrum. That is why we should not include it in this list. (Brogan may or may not be a reliable source on the definition of prosimetrum, but he is not a reliable source on the Kojiki, as he apparently has not read it himself. This is why Wikipedia prefers secondary sources to primary or tertiary ones.) elvenscout742 (talk) 01:00, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
I’ll have to ask you to point me directly, Elvenscout, to your “comment below” that you claim I’ve missed where you cite a more restrictive definition, per Brogan. Your only allusion to Brogan that I found “below” was to that definition already incorporated in the article, viz., a text composed in alternating segments of prose and verse, and I’ve already pointed out that it requires a novel reading of that sentence to see it as more restrictive than the term’s common acceptance, which is broadly that of Hugh of Bologna’s the mixed form…when a part is expressed in verse and a part in prose, also quoted currently in the article. You also refer to the J. Ziolkowski article (pp55-56) from Harris & Reichl but you have misinterpreted, in your comments above, what Z. says there. On the Bible, he says specifically How much verse must a work in prose include if it is to qualify as a full-fledged prosimetrum? In this connection it has been pointed out that technically the Bible could be subsumed as a prosimetrum since it contains cantica – and yet that in practice no one has argued for this classification. In footnote 32, appended to the end of that very sentence, Z. refers the reader to yet another article in Harris & Reichl, Steven Weitzman’s “The ‘Orientalization’ of Prosimetrum: Prosimetrum in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature,” where, of course, Weitzman does indeed speak of biblical passages, in part, as prosimetra. Nor does Z. anywhere on pp55-56 argue that X percentage of a text, as you represent above, must be verse to qualify as prosimetrum. He simply asks the rhetorical question, How much verse must a work in prose include . . .? As to whether prose and verse must be composed by the same author to qualify, Z makes clear that this is the common understanding in Latin tradition; he notes, also, that in Old Norse and other vernacular traditions, quotation of verses by poets other than the author of the prose do not disqualify the text as prosimetrum.
The Kojiki may not be the best or most representative example of prosimetrum from Japanese literature but it does qualify nonetheless. No definition of prosimetrum stipulates what type of verse must be employed; even the Kojiki’s folk songs are verse. Also, that one or more authors wrote the prose and inserted pre-existing songs in the text does not disqualify it either, for the reasons cited above. You asserted earlier that you thought Tales of Ise would be “a perfect fit.” I know you are a Japanese scholar and I know, therefore, that you are well aware that the many poems in Ise, whether written by one or more poets, existed before the composition, by yet other authors, of the prose that accompanies said poems. And I still wonder, since you did find Ise the right fit, why you did not simply add it to the list of examples as you might have done at any time – with, of course, an appropriate citation.
On a somewhat more serious note, in your edit here, you cite Ziolkowski, pp 55-56 again, to buttress the earlier Brogan citation, in the article’s opening paragraph, of prosimetrum as alternating segments of prose and verse. Unfortunately, nowhere on the pages cited does Z. speak of alterating prose and verse. I’ve removed the citation therefore.Tristan noir (talk) 02:20, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
The Brogan definition is already in the article because I put it there. But your recent request for a "more restrictive definition" seemed to mean "more restrictive than any text that contains both poetry and prose" (which you had previously requested), for which Brogan suffices. I apologize for my misunderstanding, however.
The Kojiki is not only not the best example of a prosimetric work that classical Japanese literature has to offer; its inclusion contradicts Brogan's definition of "alternating passages", as well as Ziolkowski's of "no historical chronicles that quote previously existing verse", and Hugh of Bologna's of "a branch of poetic composition". Additionally, no reliable sources have been found to justify its inclusion (Brogan, in this instance, does not count, since his self-contradiction indicates that he has not read the Kojiki himself).
I have not added Ise because I have still not managed to locate a reliable secondary source that refers to it by the word prosimetrum. In my opinion, it qualifies as a prosimetrum, but to include it on that basis would be in clear violation of WP:NOR. Also, my awareness of what constitutes a prosimetrum has changed since I used the phrase "perfect fit" above.[1] I now believe it is an "awkward fit" -- much scholarship believes that the composer of the prose segments also created at least some of the poetry (not like the Kojiki, where none of the poetry was composed by the compilers), and some believe that the author of the prose was none other than Narihira himself; also, it fits easily into Brogan's definition of alternating passages.
elvenscout742 (talk) 03:04, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
(For the record, an extensive search for background information on Brogan brought up nothing but a significant bibliography that did not indicate any deep knowledge of Japanese language or literature, and his entry in PEPP's list of contributors, where he is listed as an "independent scholar". I found out that his first name is Terry, but the V and F remain elusive. I have not found any evidence that he has read any more than a brief description of the Kojiki. I would contact him directly and ask if he is aware of the minor contradiction in his article, if I found out he was in the employ of a university and his e-mail was accessible, but since he is independent that is difficult. elvenscout742 (talk) 06:03, 16 October 2012 (UTC))
(outdent) I think you've interpreted the OR policy backwards, Tristan. The simple fact is that if no reliable source calls a work a prosimetrum, it (for the purposes of Wikipedia) isn't one. And I'd like to stress once again that this article isn't titled "List of prosimetra" vel sim; the list of examples is intended to illustrate the topic and is certainly not intended to be an exhaustive catalogue. What the article needs is, in fact, more explanation and less list. I plan to add a little myself in the next few days on the background of the term (the first recorded use is by Hugh of Bologna in the early twelfth century). Deor (talk) 02:25, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
Nobody is suggesting adding a more restrictive definition of prosimetrum unless it is attributable to a RS. That would of course be OR. But such a more restrictive definition may well be found. Currently the definition here states simply that A=B+C, i.e. "A prosimetrum is a literary piece that is made up of alternating passages of prose and poetry". If we accept such a simplified definition, it is quite illogical to label as OR the reflex assertion that B+C=A. By analogy, to assert that 357753951+159951357=517705308 is not OR, though it may not be found in any source: it's the simple application of a verifiable rule. In the same way, it is verifiable that if A=B+C then B+C=A, and each individual instance of different value of the symbols does not require its own RS verification.
I agree that the Examples section should not become a list of everyone's favorite piece of prosimetrum. My edits here were intended to address the status quo ante's cultural imbalance and reflect the breadth attested in Harris & Reichl and PEPP. I believe the list has now become too long. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 11:42, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm just going by WP:SYN, which to me implies that if one source says "A prosimetrum is X" and a different source (or a random editor) says "Work Y is X", it's probably inadmissible synthesis to say "Work Y is a prosimetrum" unless some reiable source can be found that explicitly says so. What may be obvious to some may in fact depend on individual sources' (or editors') interpretations, not necessarily openly stated, of the meaning of the term. Deor (talk) 13:51, 10 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree, Deor, that the list of examples that we now have is too long and I also agree with your statement that “the article needs…more explanation and less list.” Your planned addition on the background of the term (Hugh of Bologna) should be a promising start. Latin and Japanese titles currently dominate the extended list. What might be preferable would be to limit citations to two (or three at most) representative examples from each literary culture that has produced many mixed prose-plus-verse works: Latin, Italian, French, Gaelic, Old Norse, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. On the other hand, I don’t see, for the reasons offered in the following paragraph, how WP:SYN applies in this instance.
Where grab what you can wrote, But such a more restrictive definition may well be found. Currently the definition here states simply that A=B+C, i.e. "A prosimetrum is a literary piece that is made up of alternating passages of prose and poetry". If we accept such a simplified definition, it is quite illogical to label as OR the reflex assertion that B+C=A” — this argument is sound, although I’m doubtful, from all that I’ve read, that “a more restrictive definition” will be located. If such a hypothetical definition were discovered in a single RS, wouldn’t we still be required to balance said definition against available examples of the less restricted definition in multiple RSs?Tristan noir (talk) 02:14, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Whether or not the definition itself is sound is not really the point. The concern is that a text that is over 1,000 pages is long and is overwhelmingly prose, with just a few poems interspersed in the narrative, may be inappropriate to place in a list of prosimetra for the prosimetrum article on Wikipedia. The list should only be a list of examples, not a definitive list of all prosimetric works. Whether a folk-song counts as "poetry" and so the quoting of folk-songs qualifies a work as "prosimetrum" is also at issue. I would be interested in seeing more details on that Tohoku-dai study Tristan noir quoted, since it seems to be an external source that refers to these and other classical Japanese works as "prosimetra". Have you read it, Tristan, or do you know where we can access the full text? Otherwise, unless the terminology has been specifically applied to a particular work, it is Wikipedia policy not to cite that work as an example, even if it appears to fit. (As an aside, I could point out that the Heike is a poetic work that was originally sung by wandering "bards"/biwa-hōshi to their own musical accompaniment, so it therefore is closer to an epic poem than a prosimetric work. But pointing that out in the article itself without a specific source to verify it also counts as OR.) Additionally, it may be true that 357753951+159951357=517705308, but the analogy is flawed in that adding various works that appear to fit Wikipedia's standard definition of "prosimetrum" to this list without citing references, is equivalent to adding a "List of mathematical equations" to the article Equation and including "357753951+159951357=517705308" without providing a reason. elvenscout742 (talk) 05:43, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Just checked: Wikipedia:OR#Synthesis of published material that advances a position appears to answer this question pretty definitively. Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources. If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, do not join A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources. This means that, even if one reliable source says that a "prosimetrum" is any work combining poetry and prose, and another reliable source states that the Kojiki and Genji combine poetry and prose, it is still unacceptable for Wikipedia to use this term for these works unless a third reliable source has explicitly synthesized the two already -- i.e., directly stated that The Tale of Genji is a prosimetrum. But notability is also an issue -- the Suzuki text quoted above seems to give relatively little coverage to the Genji, and it certainly is not the best example of prosimetrum in Japanese literature. Is 2-3 works from classical Japanese literature not enough? elvenscout742 (talk) 06:02, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Oh, and not including material on Wikipedia can never be considered original research. No one is actually trying to "re-define" prosimetrum, but we are wondering about the relevance of an indiscriminate list of examples, and whether we are allowed, within Wikipedia policies and guidelines, to unilaterally put certain works into a category to which they are not usually assigned. elvenscout742 (talk) 07:26, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
This fence is not comfortable to sit on. While I believe the SYN argument advanced above is weak (the principle is clearly intended to apply to the synthesis of arguments, not something as simple as whether the verb to be is logically reflexive), the article is not improved by the listing in the Examples section of multiple items from the same cultural provenance. We already have Oku no Hosomichi and the Kojiki (whose description as prosimetrum is attested) so let's remove the other Japanese examples where it is not and be done (at least for the moment) with this essentially pointless argument. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 11:03, 12 October 2012 (UTC)


ES or TN, can you please supply the quotation from Keene's Travelers of a Hundred Ages (p36) cited for Izumi Shikibu Nikki's inclusion here? --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 11:19, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Also, I count six examples in Latin. If we are to pare this down to two (or max three), which should remain? --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 12:54, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

The Keene quotation from p36 is as follows: “The Izumi Shikibu Diary is a love story, related in short sections of mixed poetry (over 140 waka) and prose.” You will find something quite similar, grab what you can, in Edwin A. Cranston’s introduction to his translation of The Izumi Shikibu Diary (1969), pp124-125: “Early Japanese literature then forms a continuum of genres, mixing prose and poetry – the poetry collection, the personal memoir, the ‘poem-tale,’ and the overtly fictional tale. The first three especially have blurred boundaries. Somewhere among them belongs the Izumi Shikibu nikki.” Both scholars place emphasis on the mixture of poetry and prose in Japanese literature, but their observation is a commonplace in the scholarly commentaries due to the ubiquity of prosimetra in Japanese literature. Keene and Cranston do not employ the term prosimetrum. McCullough, in her contribution to Harris & Reichl, does not either. But what does that prove? If prosimetrum = prose + verse, and if McCullough, for example, allowed her essay “Combinations of Poetry and Prose in Classical Japanese Narrative" to appear in Harris & Reichl (without offering explicit or implicit reservations about the term in said essay), it may be fair to conclude that she accepted A = B + C and therefore made the logical leap B + C = A. The argument above from WP:SYN would seem to apply the letter but not the spirit of the rule.
On the question of limiting the Latin examples, Boethius’ Consolation and Petronius’ Satyricon (though this latter predates Hugh of Bologna’s first use of the term) are perhaps the most widely read. And one last question: Why are citations from reliable sources being demanded solely of the Japanese texts on the list? Why are the Latin, French, Italian and other items on the list unchallenged? I don’t doubt for a moment that proper citations can be found. But why the odd double standard?Tristan noir (talk) 18:26, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Thanks TN. I'd appreciate hearing from Deor too on the question of the Latin examples. Any editor is free to request a citation for any assertion in any article. Questionable material has no place on WP. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 19:32, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
Tristan noir, you still appear not to understand Wikipedia's rule on OR. We are not allowed to apply terminology to particular works unless they have been explicitly called such in reliable secondary sources. One of the reasons for this is that if Wikipedians are allowed to say "A+B=C and D is in my opinion the same as A+B, therefore D=C" without a source, there is no limit on where one could take it. I have seen evidence in this discussion and in the article itself that "prosimetrum" can be defined either as a work that consists of alternating passages of prose and poetry, or a work that simply combines prose and poetry. Applying only the latter, more general definition and using it to create a list of examples, when the article itself and other reliable sources clearly apply the more restrictive definition, means that the list gives readers the wrong impression of both the term prosimetrum and the nature of the various texts that have been listed. We have to remain focused on the article at all times.
Something else I must unfortunately address here is your assumption of bad faith. Requesting reliable secondary sources that specifically apply this terminology in reference to any of the works in the list is never a bad thing. The fact is that I have been applying Wikipedia's OR policy strictly to the Japanese texts in this case, because Japanese literature is my specialty. If I were to assume the Latin and other European texts are equally not referred to by this terminology and start putting tags on those ones, it would be very pointy. The fact is that the term is Latin, not Japanese -- this means that it is largely outside my area of expertise, and I can only assume good faith and that the other examples are referred to as prosimetra in reliable sources. Speculating on McCullough's views as you have done above (it may be fair to conclude that she accepted A = B + C and therefore made the logical leap B + C = A), however, is again in clear violation of the spirit of WP:OR. Unless she has directly referred to various works as "prosimetra", we can't cite her as a source here. The fact is that the Kojiki and Genji are not prosimetra according to the definition currently cited in the opening sentence of this article. They are not literary compositions "made up of alternating passages of prose and verse" by any means -- they are prose works that feature occasional (irregular) verse passages. I am not sure if Brogan has read the Kojiki or has any significant knowledge of it (he doesn't seem to be a Japanese scholar, based on the book titles in his bibliography), but I'm not sure if we should be quoting a non-specialist on this issue. elvenscout742 (talk) 15:17, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Elvenscout742, your "I am not sure if..." and "he doesn't seem to be..." are hardly the stuff to be basing a decision as to whether an author cited is RS , or which areas you deem we should accept his expertise as reliable and which not to. In addition your quasi-mathematical "A+B=C and D is in my opinion the same as A+B, therefore D=C" is an analogy too far, and is of no relevance to this situation. The definition of prosimetrum given by Hugh of Bologna (and he should know what it meant, since he invented the term) is "when a part is expressed in verse and a part in prose", as quoted from Dronke in the article, and a glance through any scholarly database confirms that the adjective prosimetric is freely used in this sense. In view of the foregoing, your application of the {{dubious}} template to the Kojiki entry in the examples may reasonably be viewed as counter-productive. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 20:52, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
I was just going by Wikipedia policy as above. The fact is that at the time I placed the tag the article openly contradicted itself. You just changed the definition presented in the article and cited a source that was already mentioned, but I would like to see where the original definition came from (Deor?) in order to verify this. The fact is that in the last few weeks I have seen dozens of works citing the Kojiki and the Man'youshuu quoted on Wikipedia, written by people who have never actually read them, so I have become suspicious of anything from a non-specialist source discussing it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, given his bibliography, Brogan is a scholar of English/Western poetry, does not speak Japanese, and has no specialist knowledge of Japanese religion/history/literature. The work does, however, happen to fit the definition currently cited in the article, which is why I have not re-added the tag. Please do not accuse me of using quasi-mathematics -- you and Tristan noir have done the exact same thing several times in this discussion. The fact is that you are both essentially saying we should give Wikipedia policy a break in this case in order to allow certain specific works of classical Japanese literature into this article. No one has yet responded to my request to stick with the Ise and Oku no Hosomichi. This article is not a List of prosimetric works, and it should only cite representative examples of prosimetra - the fact is that even if it does fit a loose definition, and is described as such in one (non-specialist) source, does not justify its inclusion here, because it is not representative of the form being discussed. I have been trying to assume good faith throughout, but it is clear that one WP:SPA is not concerned with discussing "prosimetrum" objectively and accurately, but rather in promoting a certain non-standard POV, perhaps with the intention of one day restoring the advertisements that had been included in other articles. I am getting close to taking this to dispute resolution. Given that you are both essentially arguing for a violation of Wikipedia policy (using rare terminology to describe certain works, when they have never been discussed in those terms in reliable secondary sources), it is clear which side would likely be backed up by the Wikipedia community. Brogan is probably a tertiary source in this case, as while I haven't read him, it is clear that unless he wrote a lengthy article on why the Kojiki is a prosimetrum, it would be fair to assume he has not actually read it. elvenscout742 (talk) 01:53, 14 October 2012 (UTC)


I've tried to clean up the refs for consistency, but there are two problems: (1) Could someone supply the author and article title for ref 5 (page 1510 in the Princeton Encyclopedia); I can't see the relevant page online. (2) We need a ref for the Grettir's Saga entry in the examples list—could this be in the O'Donoghue book (in which case we could move that from "Further reading" to "References")? Deor (talk) 21:40, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

O’Donoghue (available here online) should be the proper source for Grettis saga. Her use of the relevant terms (prosimetrum, prosimetrical, prosimetric), however, is limited largely to the introduction where she asserts that “prosimetrum was established as a literary mode right from the beginnings of Old Norse-Icelandic as well as Irish literature” (p2) and where she outlines her study as one that will focus on “exactly what these introduced verses contribute to the narrative” when, in their function as dialogue, “they are almost always absorbed into their new unified – if prosimetrical context” (p3). After the introduction, O’Donoghue is largely content to employ the common synonyms for prosimetrum (prose plus verse, the mixed form, etc.) in her survey of the various sagas; there is no reason for her to do otherwise as she established, in the introduction, that her purpose was to study the relation of the two modes, verse and prose. Therefore, when we come to the chapter on “Grettis Saga and the Fictionalization of Biography” (pp180-227), one cannot locate a sentence or paragraph in which prosimetrum is used. So we are faced here with a problem similar to that discussed earlier where it was questioned if it was permissible to describe any text that combines prose plus verse as prosimetrum when lacking a direct assertion of the same by a reliable source.
O’Donoghue, in her chapter on Eyrbyggja Saga (where speaking of those verses known as Máhlíðingamál and associated with the character Þórarinn), perhaps makes the type of direct connection that would be acceptable for this Wikipedia article. O’Donoghue writes: “Russell Poole has convincingly argued that the verses, if considered separately from the prose, can be seen to form a structured sequence — a single long poem. In combining the two, the saga author has produced a strong and cogent prosimetrical narrative, but at the cost of introducing certain discrepancies between the two media, which serve to betray his compositional process. The compensatory value of this new prosimetrum — the interweaving of saga prose and what seems to be the voice of Þórarinn himself — is that the Máhlíðingamál is focalized through Þórarinn: the affair is told from his individual, distinctive, even eccentric, point of view” (p101).
In light of the above, would it then be best to replace Grettis saga with Eyrbyggja saga in the list of Examples while using the above citation?Tristan noir (talk) 04:15, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
The O’Donoghue source for Grettis saga appears to be adequate (you should cite it in the article). Although you might consider replacing it with Eyrbyggja saga if you don't have an ear for histrionics. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 10:04, 13 October 2012 (UTC)
Done. I cited O'Donoghue for both sagas -- fair representation here, perhaps, of the Old Norse-Icelandic contribution.Tristan noir (talk) 00:07, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Hugh of Bologna: 1119 or 1130?[edit]

Deor can you please explain why you've removed the Ricklin reference and the date it accords in this edit? --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 23:14, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

As I explained in the edit summary, I moved the Dronke book into the "References" section because I wanted to use it for just this information. The dating (approximate) and "Hugh of Bologna" rather than "Hugo of Boulogne" are taken from that source. Deor (talk) 23:57, 12 October 2012 (UTC)
That's as may be, but if the two sources in question vary in their approximate dating, there is no basis for removing one and replacing it with the other. I have restored the data in question. Please discuss here with a view to achieving consensus before removing referenced material from the article. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 09:53, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

Alternative definition[edit]

I have gone back to the original definition cited in the article, which is the one Brogan uses. If this is not an appropriate definition, then Brogan's reliability as a source for everything else in the article needs to be called into question. Some further research indicates that Brogan's is the classical definition, and was traditionally used only for European literature. The Kojikis status as a "prosimetrum" in light of Brogan's definition also needs to be called into question. I don't honestly see a problem with citing Brogan's encyclopedia article as a source on prosimetra in general, but rejecting some of his examples based on external factors. It is entirely reasonable for a specialist in European literature to make a mistake in relation to ancient Japanese literature; it doesn't discredit his basic definition of prosimetrum at all. What does everyone else think about this? elvenscout742 (talk) 11:06, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Feeble. Using the original definition asserted by the inventor of the term rather than that of a later source is entirely appropriate and in no way calls into question the reliability of the latter. The two definitions are not in conflict, but the later one is open to a more restrictive interpretation that the original. Note that your edit history here is counter-consensus and is beginning to look disruptive and POV-pushing when viewed together with your incessant hectoring and harassing at every turn. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 11:25, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
The consensus on Wikipedia is that terminology can only be applied when it has already been so applied in reliable secondary sources. I have read extensively on all of the Japanese works cited in this discussion, and have seldom if ever come across the term "prosimetrum" in the process. The only source that has been cited to justify the use of the term in reference to the Kojiki is a tiny, passing reference in an encyclopedia article, apparently written by someone who has not read the Kojiki itself. Your above comment is also bordering on a personal attack as well, I might point out -- can we please remain focused on the article content? elvenscout742 (talk) 12:28, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

I've been avoiding mining the sources for quotations about what counts as prosimetrum and what doesn't. But I just noticed that, in essence, Crosscultural Perspectives (pp.55-6) states essentially indicates that the Kojiki cannot be a "prosimetrum", since, like the Bible, poetry makes up a relatively insignificant amount of the text, and all of the poetry is quoted from earlier authors and tradition -- none of it is original to the "author" of the Kojiki. It also must be taken into account that the same part of Crosscultural Perspectives mentions that using the term to indiscriminately describe any work of substantial length that happens to contain some verse is unwieldy, as Medieval Latin (like classical Japanese) texts almost all contained some element of poetry. elvenscout742 (talk) 11:20, 14 October 2012 (UTC)

Nope. The pages you point at do not state, as you claim, "that the Kojiki cannot be a "prosimetrum""; in fact they don't even mention the Kojiki. Any attempt to bring in the author's comments about the Bible very clearly amount to WP:SYN. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 11:37, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
They state that no one in practice refers to the Bible as "prosimetrum" even though it contains some poetry. They also state that the use of the term "prosimetrum" is generally based on the author of the text in question having composed at least some of the poetry for the purpose of the text. The Kojiki contains no original poetry, and is also almost never referred to as "prosimetrum". The fact that one source has misunderstood the nature of the Kojiki, apparently because he has not read it (WP:TERTIARY), does not mean we should uncritically take that source's example of the Kojiki. Also, WP:SYN is for article content. I am presenting an argument on this talk page that, based on the fact that no reliable secondary sources have ever used the term "prosimetrum" to describe the Kojiki, we should not include it in a list of prosimetra. I am citing related arguments presented in specialist literature to back up my point on this talk page, but you and Tristan noir are the ones who are trying to alter the material in the article based on rather broad readings of certain sources. elvenscout742 (talk) 12:21, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
Nope. No matter how hard and often you push your own POV it doesn't make it valid. Prosimetrum has been defined by the inventor of the term, and your attempt to subvert this by removing that definition from the lead para in this edit is not productive. Your assertion that adding the original definition of the term was done "to justify ONE of the examples" is in direct contravention of WP:AGF. Your attempt to synthesize an unsupported conclusion, based on your own arbitrary assumptions as to the degree of a particular source's reliability in discrete areas, and of your personal, unsupported assumptions as to what someone has or hasn't read, is baseless. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 14:11, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
Whichever definition we use, the fact is that the majority of reliable literature have only used the term to refer to works that consist of alternating passages of prose and poetry. For this reason, there are no reliable sources that refer to the Kojiki as a prosimetrum, and it is OR to claim that it "fits the definition" in this context. Your claim that my attempt to enforce Wikipedia policy on this article is "POV" is an irrelevant personal attack, and I would appreciate if you would start focusing on the article content. The only source you have been able to locate that mentions the Kojiki as a prosimetrum is a tertiary source written by someone who has never read the Kojiki and also specifically states the more restrictive definition that CLEARLY does not fit the Kojiki. elvenscout742 (talk) 14:29, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) This "prosimetrum has been defined by the inventor of the term" stuff is a red herring (as if the earliest attested use of a term were to set its definition for all time). What Dronke actually says is "Hugh, that is, defines the prosimetrum as a branch of poetic composition. For him the poetic aspect is integral to the form and determines its nature, even if 'we call it a prosimetrum when a part is expressed in verse and a part in prose'." He goes on to cite Hugh's discussion as a justification for "set[ting] aside the works in which 'the poetry does not matter'." Are we to rigorously apply Dronke's interpretation to the list of examples as well, discarding those in which "the poetry does not matter", or are we to just apply your interpretation of what Hugh meant? Have you read the Rationes dictandi?
In addition, Hugh was writing in Latin for readers of Latin, so it might reasonably be concluded that he intended the term prosimetrum to apply specifically to works written in Latin. Are we to use his "obvious" meaning to guide the article's list of examples as well? Deor (talk) 14:40, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
One more observation (my last in this forum): A section headed "History" in an article title "Prosimetrum" should discuss the history of prosimetra, not the history of the word itself. Deor (talk) 14:59, 14 October 2012 (UTC)
And how can a work be a branch of poetic composition if there was no poetry composed for it? The "poems" in the Kojiki are folk songs, and predate the composition of the Kojiki itself by somewhere between several decades and several centuries! elvenscout742 (talk) 00:35, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Essentially what is being demanded of us here by Elvenscout742 is to accept his judgement as more reliable than that of a source published in a RS. First he demands that a RS be found that applies the term prosimetrum before including an example in the article; then when that is found, we are informed, ex cathedra, as it were, that the source couldn't possible by reliable because it doesn't accord with his personal opinions, those of an anonymous editor. What a topsy-turvy world some of us live in. --gråb whåt you cån (talk) 18:56, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

WP:TERTIARY -- if I disagree with what is in a tertiary source, based on what is in secondary sources (Keene, Chamberlain, etc.), and those secondary sources indicate that the tertiary source has misunderstood the Kojiki (he directly contradicts himself), then the secondary sources take priority. All reliable sources say that the Kojiki is not made up of alternating passages of prose and verse. In fact, it fits directly into Ziolkowski's description of what is not a prosimetrum. elvenscout742 (talk) 23:53, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
First, Elvenscout, I would ask you to demonstrate, with direct citations from “Keene, Chamberlain, etc.”, their arguments that demonstrate that Brogan has “misunderstood the Kojiki” (your unsupported assertion). Please offer a demonstration. Second, you persist in misinterpreting the passage from Ziolkowski, despite the discussion we had on this very point above. Z. there addresses “what is not a prosimetrum” not as a matter of universal application but, as he very clearly indicates, only within the limited context of the Latin tradition and those vernacular traditions (the Romance languages) immediately tied to it. In the same passage, Z. clearly reports that other traditions, such as Old Norse-Icelandic and early Irish, define prosimetrum differently, viz., they do classify prose texts with quoted verses, where the prose and verse are by different authors, as prosimetrum and, furthermore, they also consider annals and histories (Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla for example) as prosimetric if verses are included, even though said verses are largely “inserts” or “quotations.” Third, you appeal again to a definition of “alternating passages”(this from Brogan and nowhere, as I pointed out to you before, cited in Z.) as if this were foremost or the only definition when even a cursory examination of the literature will show you that it is not. In fact, it requires a tortured reading of “alternating passages,” as I’ve said elsewhere, to find any conflict between that definition and the much simpler formulation of Hugh of Bologna (“when a part is expressed in verse and a part in prose”). Susanna Braund, in Brill’s New Pauly, sums up the current situation well when she opens her article on prosimetrum as follows: A term which is used to denote a range of classical, medieval, Renaissance and even modern texts which exploit a combination of prose and verse. The term itself, which is clearly a coinage from prosa (oratio) and metrum, is medieval. The earliest known use is in Rationes dictandi of Hugh of Bologna (early 12th cent.), who sees it as a branch of poetic composition which he labels the 'mixed form' (mixtum). So much is agreed. For the rest, definitions continue to be contested. You should note two statements in Braund: (a) that prosimetrum involves a “combination of prose and verse” (a direct echo of Hugh of Bologna’s simple first definition), and (b), that beyond Hugh’s early formulation, “definitions continue to be contested.”Tristan noir (talk) 00:41, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm at work right now (slow day, free to edit Wikipedia) so I don't have a chance to check a specific reference in Keene, but if I recall the first chapter of his Seeds in the Heart is devoted to the Kojiki, and specifies that (1)it is a historical chronicle, (2)it contains infrequent quotations from the poetry of the past and (3)these poems were not composed specifically for the Kojiki. I will provide a more solid reference when I get the chance. Chamberlain's translation, however, is in the public domain and is easily accessible online [2]. The very first verse passage included in the work is in chapter 19, after more than 18 sections of pure Chinese prose. This clearly contradicts Brogan's definition of what constitutes a prosimetrum, which indicates either that (1)his use of the phrase "prosimetric form" in reference to the Kojiki was meant to be distinguished from true prosimetra or (2)he is not particular knowledgeable of the contents of the Kojiki to begin with. The fact is that I have been attempting to reject the use of tertiary sources like the Princeton Encyclopedia and Pauly throughout this discussion, but if we are going to use them we should be using them carefully. Reliable secondary and primary sources written by specialists that seem to contradict the examples cited in tertiary sources. This actually reminds me of another occasion a while back, where the Lafcadio Hearn article cited a list of "transferred nationalists" in a book by George Orwell to justify the inclusion of such a statement in the article, but the fact is that Orwell, who misspelled Hearn's name, was clearly not a reliable source on the subject of Lafcadio Hearn. The fact is that you and Bagworm have consistently ignored the contention, in both Hugh of Bologne and Braund, that a prosimetrum is a "branch of poetic composition" -- if there were no poems composed as part of a work, it is not a prosimetrum. Even if we reject the stricter definition of "alternating passages" (I haven't seen any reason why we should, though), our list of examples simply should not include works that blatantly contradict the most basic definition which, as Braund points out, is the only universally accepted one. Including the Kojiki in this list is one step away from inviting casual Wikipedia readers to visit the Kojiki article and add to the opening sentence The Kojiki is a prosimetrum composed in 8th century Japan...(!) elvenscout742 (talk) 02:59, 17 October 2012 (UTC)