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Three-Dimensional Reading

Three-Dimensional Reading: Stories of Time and Space in Japanese Modernist Fiction, 1911–1932

Edited by Angela Yiu
Copyright Date: 2013
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    Three-Dimensional Reading
    Book Description:

    "This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Japanese modernism. The translations, each with a helpful and thought-provoking introduction, have been skillfully chosen to offer fresh insights on canonical writers or contribute to our understanding of lesser-known authors. All of the stories are interesting, and several are truly remarkable. I highly recommend the volume for both Asian and comparative literature programs." -William Gardner, Swarthmore College"Three-Dimensional Readinghighlights a broad spectrum of modernist approaches to the representation of space and time. All of the translations are excellent, both accurate and fluid, and the collection as a whole should attract a range of readers interested in modernism or Japanese literature and culture." -Seiji Lippit, UCLAA 29th-century dystopian society seen through the eyes of a mutant-cum-romantic poet; a post-impressionist landscape of orbs and cubes experienced by a wandering underdog; an imaginary sick room generated entirely from sounds reaching the ears of an invalid: These and other haunting re-presentations of time and space constitute the Japanese modernist landscape depicted in this volume of stories from the 1910s to the 1930s.The fourteen stories selected for this anthology-by both relatively unknown and "must-read" authors-experiment with a protean modernist style in the vivacious period between the nation-building Meiji and the early years of Showa. The writers capture imaginary temporal and spatial dimensions that embody forms of futuristic urban space, colonial space, utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia. Their work invites readers to abandon the conventional naturalistic approach to spatial and temporal representations and explore how the physical and empirical experience of time and space is distorted and reconfigured through the prism of modernist Japanese prose.An introduction and prefatory materials provide historical and critical context for Japanese modernism, makingThree-Dimensional Readinga valuable teaching text not only for the study of modern Japanese literature, but for world literature, global modernism, and utopian studies as well. The volume also includes drawings by contemporary artist Sakaguchi Kyohei, whose ability to create a stunning visual reality beyond the borders of time and place is a testament to the power and reverberations of the modernist imagination.Angela Yiuis professor of Japanese literature at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University, Tokyo.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3802-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)
    Angela Yiu

    This anthology examines the profound ways in which the modernist imagination re-presents time and space in Japanese experimental fiction in the interwar years of the 1910s to the 1930s. The fourteen writers selected for this anthology experimented with a protean modernist style in a vivacious period between the nation-building Meiji (1868–1912) and the dark war years of Showa (1926–89). Their works capture imaginary temporal and spatial dimensions that embody various forms of futuristic urban space, colonial space, utopia, dystopia, and heterotopia. The development of mass consumer culture and moneyed capital stimulated the publication of many new and experimental...

  5. Part I Scenes of the Mind

    • A Strange Sound (Hen na oto, 1911)
      (pp. 29-36)
      Natsume Sōseki

      Parallel to the peripatetic exploration of urban landscape in Sōsekiʹs full-length fiction are a number of proto-modernist short pieces and essays that depict the intricacies of interior space. These works are experiments with modernist techniques in configuring space through sound, a limited range of vision, and hallucinatory imaginings belonging to the invalid confined to his sick room or his study. The interior pieces, such as ʺA Strange Sound,ʺBunchō(1909; trans. ʺBuncho,ʺ 2001),¹Gyōretsu(1909; trans. ʺThe Procession,ʺ 2009),² create an imaginary opening that is simultaneously liberating and confining and prefigures the obsession with reshuffling and imagining external reality within...

    • The Law Student in the Garret (Yaneura no hōgakushi, 1918)
      (pp. 37-49)
      Uno Kōji

      Uno Kōji (1891–1961), who lost his father early in life, was raised by relatives in the Dotombori entertainment district of Osaka while his mother worked. Financed by a successful relative, he came to Tokyo ostensibly to study law but entered Waseda University and pursued literature. When he first attracted attention with ʺKura no nakaʺ (1919; trans. ʺIn the Storehouse,ʺ 1997), many in the literary establishment were taken aback. His first-person narrator, though forty years old, disported himself like a child. Though ʺconfessionalʺ in nature, the content of his revelations (his love of kimonos and smells and his sexual impotence)...

    • Scenes of the Mind (Aru kokoro no fūkei, 1926)
      (pp. 50-61)
      Kajii Motojirō

      The literary career of Kajii Motojirō, which spanned a few productive years between 1925 and 1932, was constrained by financial difficulties and cut short by tuberculosis. The task of writing was such an ordeal that his oeuvre amounts to no more than about twenty fully realized short stories. Yet despite the obstacles he faced, Kajii developed a voice and style admired for its polish and inventiveness. More important, his willingness to engage in formal literary experiments that chronicle and celebrate the liberating powers of the imagination makes him a truly representative figure of Japanese modernism.

      ʺScenes of the Mindʺ displays...

    • The Sound of Footsteps (Ningen no ashioto, 1925)
      (pp. 62-66)
      Kawabata Yasunari

      Recent scholarship in Japanesemodanizumuhas steadily revealed a modernist Kawabata that complements, if not rivals, his reputation as the Nobel Prize laureate known for his intensely aesthetic and poetic modern fiction. In fact, the modernist Kawabata has always asserted a clear presence in his works and literary roles. Not only was he among the core writers in literary movements such as the Shinkankaku (New Sensation) School and the Shinkō geijutsu (New Art) School as well as a founding member of the magazinesShin shichō(New Thought) andBungei jidai(Literary Age), his wide spectrum of fiction, fromThe Scarlet...

  6. Part II Time and Urban Space

    • Astromania (Tentai shikōshō, 1928)
      (pp. 69-84)
      Inagaki Taruho

      Born in Osaka and raised in the town of Akashi near Kobe, Inagaki Taruho was an aviation buff since his youth. He founded a flying magazine (Hikō gahō) with his classmates at his high school Kwansei Gakuin, and applied for the Pilot Training School in Haneda (Nihon hikōki gakkō) when it first started in 1916, but was rejected because of his poor eyesight. In 1921, Taruho went to Tokyo at the encouragement of Satō Haruo, who had read drafts of several of Taruhoʹs earliest stories and recognized in him an astoundingly original voice. These stories become the basis ofIssen...

    • Configuration (Keitai, 1932)
      (pp. 85-100)
      Tamura Taijirō

      Tamura Taijirō (1911–1983) is best known for two works he published in the immediate postwar period: a short story,Nikutai no akuma(Demon of the Flesh, 1946), and a novel,Nikutai no mon(Gate of Flesh, 1947). The novel in particular created a popular sensation—it has been adapted to stage, screen, and television numerous times—and secured Tamuraʹs critical reputation. These titles also provided the term that identified an important though short-lived postwar literary movement callednikutai bungaku(variously translated as ʺcarnal literatureʺ or ʺliterature of the flesh/the bodyʺ). Although the notion that literature should focus on the...

    • The Underside of Town (Machi no soko, 1925)
      (pp. 101-108)
      Yokomitsu Riichi

      In 1924, Yokomitsu and Kawabata founded the magazineBungei jidai(Literary Age), which served as a venue for modernist literature. The critic Chiba Kameo (1878–1935) coined the term ʺShinkankaku-haʺ for their literary movement, which he described as a ʺsubtle artistic attitude that deliberately peers into the inner existence and meaning of life through the narrow opening of hints and symbols.ʺ¹ ʺThe Underside of Townʺ is a short experimental piece that plays with the idea of creating a new order and perception of reality through the eye of the narrator at different levels: aerial, ground, and sometimes literally peering through...

    • Aquarium (Suizokukan, 1930)
      (pp. 109-122)
      Hori Tatsuo

      Hori Tatsuo (1904–1953), born in the quintessentially High City district of Kōjimachi and educated in the elite Tokyo First Higher School (Daiʹichi Kōtō Gakkō) and Tokyo Imperial University, was generally known for his genteel and psychological works such asUtsukushii mura(Beautiful Village, 1933) andKaze tachinu(The Wind Rises, 1937), written under the influence of Proust, Rilke, and François Mauriac. But there is another aspect of his creativity that is rooted in urban Tokyo, the common people, and mass culture. In college he was involved with politically minded writers and critics such as Nakano Shigeharu (1902–1979) and...

    • Pavement Snapshots (Peibumento sunappu–yonaka kara asa made, 1930)
      (pp. 123-142)
      Ryūtanji Yū

      Especially prolific between 1928 and 1932, Ryūtanji Yū (1901–1992, given name Hashizume Yū) published novels, anthologies, short stories, sketches, and manifestoes. He also founded movements defining how literature should respond to the modern moment, which he believed was characterized by the excitement of urbanization and commodity capitalism. His debut novel,WanderlustPeriod (Hōrō jidai), won the 1928 award for fiction on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the founding ofKaizōmagazine. This was one of Japanʹs first literary honors, preceding the Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes by more than seven years. Ryūtanji was an exemplar of new writing...

    • Landscape with an Officer: A Sketch in 1923 (Junsa no iru fūkei, 1929)
      (pp. 143-158)
      Nakajima Atsushi

      Coming from a family of scholars in Chinese classics, Nakajima is best known for his stories set in ancient China, such as ʺSangetsukiʺ (1941; trans. ʺTiger Poet,ʺ 1962, ʺThe Moon over the Mountain,ʺ 2011) and ʺLi Lingʺ (1942; ʺLi Ling,ʺ 2011). Recently, critical attention has also been directed to his Micronesia pieces set in Palau where he served for a brief six months as an editor of Japanese-language textbooks in Japanese-ruled Micronesia (1921–33).¹ Not much, however, has been translated or written about his stories set in colonial Korea under Japanese rule (1910–45), yet those stories occupy an important...

  7. Part III Utopia and Dystopia

    • A Golden Death (Konjiki no shi, 1916)
      (pp. 161-200)
      Tanizaki Jun’ichirō

      Tanizaki Junʹichirō (1886–1965) is one of the most celebrated authors of modern Japan. This account of an artistʹs obsession with beauty reflects Tanizakiʹs early preoccupation with predominantly Western aesthetics. Beyond the many explicit references to LessingʹsLaokoonlie the ʺdecadentʺ influences of Poe, Huysmans, and Wilde.¹ The dys/u/topian space depicted in the story is heavily larded with images of Rodinʹs sculptures and other Western artworks.

      The artistʹs ʺgolden deathʺ signifies his apotheosis; simultaneously it is the negation of his aesthetic of turning human life into an art form. As early as the following year (1915), the main character in...

    • Wonder Island (Fushigi na shima, 1924)
      (pp. 201-210)
      Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

      This story is a light satire modeled onGulliverʹs TravelsandAlice in Wonderland, and in many ways serves as a draft version of Akutagawaʹs famousKappa(1927). Not only is the titular Wonder Island a fantastical spatial double to Kappaland—the strange hill in the former an inversion of the hollow in the latter—its attempt to engage in social and political satire through descriptions of encounters with imaginary and improbable creatures precipitated the spatial imagination and narrative strategy ofKappa. Both stories are about utopia/dsytopia that dissolves quickly into nightmares, and ʺWonder Islandʺ is more entertaining because the...

    • A Record of Nonchalant (Nonsharan kiroku, 1929)
      (pp. 211-239)
      Satō Haruo

      In 1927, in an essay titled ʺThe Terror of the Metropolisʺ (Tokai no kyōfu), Satō Haruo wrote, ʺUtopia is a state that many have depicted since days of old. I feel like writing a piece about its inversion.ʺ¹ The resulting story is the absurdist and futurological ʺA Record of Nonchalant,ʺ referring to the eponymous city in which the story was set.

      Satō experiments with the construction of a science-fiction-type dystopian world before the concept and the terms to express it gained acceptance in modern Japanese literature. Placed in the narrative upheavals of his time, the story responds to proletarian literature,...

    • Hell in a Bottle (Binzume no jigoku, 1928)
      (pp. 240-250)
      Yumeno Kyūsaku

      In the Hakata area in Kyūshū,yumeno kyūsakurefers to a aimless dreamer in the local dialect, a term that Sugiyama Taidō adopted as his pen name when his Nationalist father Shigemaru used that to deride his writing.¹ He was born in Fukuoka prefecture in Kyūshū and attended Keiō University for two years (1911–13), after which he worked as a farmer, a monk, and a reporter for theKyūshū Nippōnewspaper. In 1926, he debuted as a writer with the submission ʺAyakashi no tsuzumiʺ (1926, The Eerie Hand Drum) to the magazineShin seinen(New Youth), a story that...

  8. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 251-254)
  9. About the Contributors
    (pp. 255-258)
  10. Index
    (pp. 259-265)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-267)