Suzuki Harunobu and the Reconsideration of Classical Literature

In addition to his technical and stylistic innovations, another way in which Suzuki Harunobu helped to revitalize the genre of shunga was by including in his works references to classical literature such as the Collection of Japanese and Chinese Verses (Wakan rōeishū) that lacked even the slightest trace of mockery. He succeeded in illuminating the erotic subtext that many readers had long overlooked in such poetry, thus simultaneously rehabilitating his readers’ image of their literary heritage and validating the genre of shunga as an expression of traditional values and a sophisticated aesthetic.