The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature

The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From 1945 to the Present

J. Thomas Rimer
Van C. Gessel
Amy Vladeck Heinrich
Hiroaki Sato
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 864
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  • Book Info
    The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature
    Book Description:

    In Volume 2 of Columbia's comprehensive anthology of modern Japanese literature, thoughtfully selected and carefully translated readings portray the vast changes that have transformed Japanese culture since the end of the Pacific War. Beginning with the Allied Occupation in 1945 and concluding with the early twenty-first century, these stories, poems, plays, and essays reflect Japan's heady transition from poverty to prosperity, its struggle with conflicting ideologies and political beliefs, and the growing influence of popular culture on the country's artistic and intellectual traditions.

    Organized chronologically and by genre within each period, readings include fiction by Hayashi Fumiko and Oe Kenzaburo; poems by Ayukawa Nobuo, Katsura Nobuko, and Saito Fumi; plays by Mishima Yukio and Shimizu Kunio; and a number of essays, among them Eto Jun on Natsume Soseki and his brilliant novel Kokoro ( The Heart of Things), and Kawabata Yasunari on the shape of his literary career and the enduring influence of classical Japanese literature.

    Some authors train a keen eye on the contemporary world, while others address the historical past and its relationship to modern culture. Some adopt an even broader scope and turn to European models for inspiration, while others look inward, exploring psychological and sexual terrain in new, often daring ways. Spanning almost six decades, this anthology provides a thorough introduction to a profound period of creative activity.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51817-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-8)
    Van C. Gessel

    The works of Japanese literature in volume 2 of The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature span six decades, during which Japan moved from a war-demolished wasteland to one of the world’s leading economic and political powers. Given this rapid and dramatic transformation, it should not be surprising to discover that Japanese literature similarly evolved and diversified, speeding through “movements” and styles and tones as frequently as Toyota or Honda vehicles sped through model changes.

    In the middle of the twentieth century, the Japanese lived lives sometimes eerily parallel to those of their grandparents in the early Meiji period (1868...

  5. Chapter 5 EARLY POSTWAR LITERATURE, 1945 TO 1970
    (pp. 9-525)

    With the end of World War II in 1945, Japanese literature seemed to take, in the eyes of both writers and readers, a number of new and potentially creative turns.

    To some extent, of course, a new generation had come to the fore. Some of the older masters, like Kawabata Yasunari and Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, continued to write and, indeed, produced some of their best work after 1945. But other important prewar figures, such as Shiga Naoya, remained virtually silent. Along with those older writers who began to publish new works, several younger novelists, poets, and playwrights now appeared, many of...

    (pp. 526-814)

    Chronologies can never be exact. This final period overlaps with that covered in chapter 5, which includes a number of authors who grew up during World War II and, at this time, began writing about their experiences in those years.

    In the mid-1960s, however, new factors came into play on the Japanese political scene, just as they did around the world during that troubled decade. Both Japan’s efforts to renew the United States–Japan Security Treaty and the war in Vietnam caused significant social upheaval. Younger writers now found themselves alienated not only from the older generation but also from...

    (pp. 815-834)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 835-842)