Language of Love

The 84-year-old Japanologist Donald Keene walks in a state of intense absorption. "If he doesn't recognize you when you pass him on the sidewalk," says one of Keene's students at Columbia University, where he still teaches a seminar on Japanese literature, "it's because his head is so full of everything he's ever read." Few heads anywhere, including Japan, have taken in as much Japanese literature as Keene's. His forthcoming memoir, Chronicles of My Life: An American in the Heart of Japan, tells the unlikely story of how a boy born in Brooklyn in 1922 grew increasingly drawn...

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