The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, Abridged

The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, Abridged

J. Thomas Rimer
Van C. Gessel
Amy Vladeck Heinrich
Leith Morton
Hiroaki Sato
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 896
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    The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, Abridged
    Book Description:

    Featuring choice selections from the core anthologies The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868--1945, and The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From 1945 to the Present, this collection offers a concise yet remarkably rich introduction to the fiction, poetry, drama, and essays of Japan's modern encounter with the West. Spanning a period of exceptional invention and transition, this volume is not only a critical companion to courses on Japanese literary and intellectual development but also an essential reference for scholarship on Japanese history, culture, and interactions with the East and West.

    The first half covers the three major styles of literary expression that informed Japanese writing and performance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: classical Japanese fiction and drama, Chinese poetry, and Western literary representation and cultural critique. Their juxtaposition brilliantly captures the social, intellectual, and political challenges shaping Japan during this period, particularly the rise of nationalism, the complex interaction between traditional and modern forces, and the encroachment of Western ideas and writing. The second half conveys the changes that have transformed Japan since the end of the Pacific War, such as the heady transition from poverty to prosperity, the friction between conflicting ideologies and political beliefs, and the growing influence of popular culture on the country's artistic and intellectual traditions. Featuring sensitive translations of works by Nagai Kafu, Natsume Soseki, Oe Kenzaburo, Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio, and many others, this anthology relates an essential portrait of Japan's dynamic modernization.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53027-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xx)
    J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessel
    (pp. 1-6)
    J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessel

    The modern literature of Japan, like literature around the world, has been affected by both geography and politics. In the case of Japan, the trajectory began with the opening of the country in the mid-nineteenth century. While it is true that Japan, along with Thailand, was the only country in East Asia not colonized by the European powers, the Japanese government certainly felt the danger of possible incursions, beginning with the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry’s “black ships” in 1853. Indeed, in its long history, Japan had never been occupied by any foreign power before the end of World War...

    (pp. 7-28)

    With the influx of new ideas and new literary forms from Europe and America, the landscape of Japanese literature quickly began to change. By the beginning of the twentieth century, these shifts had become obvious as the concerns of writers and readers increasingly reflected the massive alterations in the political, cultural, and spiritual nature of Japan as a nation.

    In the artistically complex last decades of the nineteenth century, a number of issues important to the creation of a truly contemporary prose literature were addressed. Some of these changes could be seen in the accomplishments of young writers who, using...

  6. Chapter 2 BEGINNINGS
    (pp. 29-173)

    By the end of the nineteenth century, the movement for a literature that examined contemporary concerns and that could be written in the vernacular had come to occupy a more central place in the literary world of Japan. The range of styles and subject matter used during this period was wide. Some writers, now increasingly distanced from the past, began to write more objectively about the Tokugawa period, which had ended some forty or fifty years earlier. Others, who wished to pay homage to the literary accomplishments of the past, tried casting these traditions in a new way, using elements...

    (pp. 174-371)

    The period between World War I and Japan’s increasing involvement in its own wars in the 1930s contains a bewildering variety of influences and counterinfluences on the literature written during those two decades. The stimulation of contemporary European art and literature became even more important, particularly in the case of French writers such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Gide, whose works were translated and eagerly read. With their concern for the poor and disenfranchised, socialism and Marxism might be considered European influences as well, and they greatly helped reshape the consciousness of Japanese artists and intellectuals. Any public expression of these...

  8. Chapter 4 THE WAR YEARS
    (pp. 372-446)

    With the beginning of the war in China in the 1930s, Japan was increasingly on a wartime footing, a situation that continued and intensified through the Pacific War until its conclusion in 1945. The effect on the intellectuals and writers of the period was considerable, with various outcomes. Some enthusiastically embraced the conflict and wrote positively about it. Others tried to describe the situation more objectively, and still others retreated into the past, avoiding any mention of the contemporary period at all.

    This chapter of the anthology contains both writings published during the war years and some later contributions that...

  9. Chapter 5 EARLY POSTWAR LITERATURE, 1945 TO 1970
    (pp. 447-739)

    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. 740-924)

    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. 925-960)