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Arthur Waley, Xu Zhimo, and the Reception of Buddhist Art in Europe: A Neglected Source
T. H. BARRETT
Keywords: Arthur Waley, Xu Zhimo, Anesaki Masaharu, Zen art, translation
Abstract: This paper examines the creation of ‘Zen Art’ in the Anglophone world. In particular, I examine the celebrated translator Arthur Waley’s conceptualization of Zen art, and argue that he wrote an anonymous review of Anesaki Masaharu’s 姉崎正治 English-language treatise on Buddhist art and ideals with the help of Xu Zhimo. This overlooked review is an important text to trace the twentieth century discussion and translation of Zen writings on art and aestheticism. While discussing both Anesaki and Waley’s respective works on Buddhist art, in addition to Waley’s interactions with Japanese Zen writers, I outline the cast of characters and the networks that created a popular concept of ‘Zen Art’ in the Anglophone world that did not exist in East Asia.