The Dawn That Never Comes

The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism

Michael K. Bourdaghs
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/bour12980
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  • Book Info
    The Dawn That Never Comes
    Book Description:

    A critical rethinking of theories of national imagination, The Dawn That Never Comes offers the most detailed reading to date in English of one of modern Japan's most influential poets and novelists, Shimazaki Toson (1872--1943). It also reveals how Toson's works influenced the production of a fluid, shifting form of national imagination that has characterized twentieth-century Japan.

    Analyzing Toson's major works, Michael K. Bourdaghs demonstrates that the construction of national imagination requires a complex interweaving of varied -- and sometimes contradictory -- figures for imagining the national community. Many scholars have shown, for example, that modern hygiene has functioned in nationalist thought as a method of excluding foreign others as diseased. This study explores the multiple images of illness appearing in Toson's fiction to demonstrate that hygiene employs more than one model of pathology, and it reveals how this multiplicity functioned to produce the combinations of exclusion and assimilation required to sustain a sense of national community.

    Others have argued that nationalism is inherently ambivalent and self-contradictory; Bourdaghs shows more concretely both how this is so and why it is necessary and provides, in the process, a new way of thinking about national imagination. Individual chapters take up such issues as modern medicine and the discourses of national health; ideologies of the family and its representation in modern literary works; the gendering of the canon of national literature; and the multiple forms of space and time that narratives of national history require.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50341-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In Japan, as in other modern nations, poets have delved into the rhetoric of national imagination. But of the many brilliant poets who have appeared since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, whose verses sing most truly the song of the Japanese? In 1921, Akita Ujaku (1883–1962) nominated his candidate for the position of Japan’s “national poet” (kokuminteki shijin). In doing so, he tried to pin down the necessary qualifications that distinguish the national poet:

    Of course, the national poet must be someone who represents accurately the passions, the thought, the traditional taste or the particular humor of the nation...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Tōson, Literary History, and National Imagination
    (pp. 19-46)

    A convenient place to begin my exploration of the works of Shimazaki Tōson and their relation to national imagination is the position the author has occupied in a variety of canons of Japanese literature. There is, after all, “no single national canon, but several, each representing different communities, all striving to be officially crowned.”¹ As Haruo Shirane has shown, the modern canon of classical Japanese literature has had to stitch together texts from widely variant domains, placing aristocratic, folkloric, and commercial texts alongside one another in order to meet the conflicting demands of national imagination.²

    Just as there may be...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Disease of Nationalism, the Empire of Hygiene: The Broken Commandment as Hygiene Manual
    (pp. 47-76)

    In 1907, one year after the appearance of his first full-length novel, The Broken Commandment (Hakai), Shimazaki Tōson published an account of the experiences that lay behind the writing of the work.¹ In the passage, Tōson describes how he began work on The Broken Commandment when he was a schoolteacher in the rural village of Komoro, just as the Russo-Japanese War broke out. He recounts numerous visits to the Komoro depot to send off pupils and fellow teachers who were bound for the battlefield. Moreover,

    In my far-off mountain home, I heard about plans of my friends in the city...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Triangulating the Nation: Representing and Publishing The Family
    (pp. 77-113)

    During the early twentieth century, one of the words most commonly used to designate the Japanese nation, to name the cultural and political entity that was thought to have existed continuously from antiquity to the present, was kokutai, usually translated as “national polity.” Those who stressed the continuity of the imperial line and its centrality to Japanese identity especially favored this word. The first character in this compound, koku, carries the meaning of “nation” or “country”; the second, tai, is usually translated as “body.” In short, the characters literally mean “national body.” In fact, today kokutai also functions as an...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Suicide and Childbirth in the I-Novel: “Women’s Literature” in Spring and New Life
    (pp. 114-153)

    Shimazaki Tōson’s autobiographical novel The Family (Ie, 1910–1911; trans. 1976) seems deliberately to avoid representing childbirth, as if that were a structural principle for its narrative. Five children are born to the protagonist’s family over the course of the novel, and yet not once is the moment—or even the day—of childbirth depicted. Typically, births occur during a period of time that the narrative skips over, so that the children’s appearances are described retroactively and even then only in passing. This elision is perhaps most pronounced in the novel’s ending—at least for readers familiar with the author’s...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Times and Spaces of Nations: The Multiple Chronotopes of Before the Dawn
    (pp. 154-190)

    The January 1930 issue of the journal Chūō kōron featured two articles that are of interest to us here. The first was the fourth installment of Tōson’s new novel, Before the Dawn (Yoake mae; trans. 1987 ).¹ Tōson had begun serialization the previous year and would continue to produce chapters at the rate of one every three months until the final installment appeared in 1935. Before the Dawn provided a sweeping portrait of Japan during the middle of the 1800s, portraying the events of the Meiji Restoration from the perspective of the rural village Magome. As we saw in chapter...

  10. EPILOGUE The Most Japanese of Things
    (pp. 191-198)

    It is the dead of winter in the southern hemisphere, and Shimazaki Tōson, age sixty-five, has just come ashore for a brief stopover. One year earlier, the new Japanese branch of the International PEN Club chose Tōson—riding the wave of acclaim that greeted Before the Dawn—as its first chair. Hence, it is as the official representative of Japan’s modern literature that he is now traveling to Buenos Aires to attend the International PEN Club meeting the following month. This is in fact Tōson’s second visit to Cape Town; he stopped over on his return to Japan from France...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 199-246)
  12. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 247-264)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 265-274)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-276)