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Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan

Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan: Childhood, Korea, and the Historical Avant-garde

SAMUEL PERRY
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqz5h
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  • Book Info
    Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan
    Book Description:

    Recasting Red Cultureturns a critical eye on the influential proletarian cultural movement that flourished in 1920s and 1930s Japan. This was a diverse, cosmopolitan, and highly contested moment in Japanese history when notions of political egalitarianism were being translated into cultural practices specific to the Japanese experience. Both a political and historiographical intervention, the book offers a fascinating account of the passions-and antimonies-that animated one of the most admirable intellectual and cultural movements of Japan's twentieth century, and argues that proletarian literature, cultural workers, and institutions fundamentally enrich our understanding of Japanese culture.What sustained the proletarian movement's faith in the idea that art and literature were indispensable to the task of revolution? How did the movement manage to enlist artists, teachers, and scientist into its ranks, and what sorts of contradictions arose in the merging of working-class and bourgeois cultures?Recasting Red Cultureasks these and other questions as it historicizes proletarian Japan at the intersection of bourgeois aesthetics, radical politics, and a flourishing modern print culture. Drawing parallels with the experiences of European revolutionaries, the book vividly details how cultural activists "recast" forms of modern culture into practices commensurate with the goals of revolution.Weaving over a dozen translated fairytales, poems, and short stories into his narrative, Samuel Perry offers a fundamentally new approach to studying revolutionary culture. By examining the margins of the proletarian cultural movement, Perry effectively redefines its center as he closely reads and historicizes proletarian children's culture, avant-garde "wall fiction," and a literature that bears witness to Japan's fraught relationship with its Korean colony. Along the way, he shows how proletarian culture opened up new critical spaces in the intersections of class, popular culture, childhood, gender, and ethnicity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-4022-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. VII-XII)
  4. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: RECASTING RED CULTURE IN PROLETARIAN JAPAN
    (pp. 1-11)

    Let us begin with that unforgettable image: Yanase Masamu’s red hand, adorning the frontispiece of this book, which stretches out from a page of theMusansha shinbun(Proletarian news) in a gesture of solidarity, strength, and reassurance. Yanase’s artistry is impeccable if self-consciously crude, different shades of red and black ink brought together with such meticulous craftsmanship that the hand offers the illusion of having three dimensions—of reflecting a source of light from somewhere above. The stylized headline calls out to the same reader the arm reaches out to: “Join hands with 50,000 readers of theProletarian News, a...

  5. CHAPTER 2 FAIRY TALES ON THE FRONT LINE: READING CHILDHOOD, CLASS, AND CULTURE
    (pp. 12-69)

    Published in the march 1932 edition of the magazineHataraku fujin(Working women), Arai Mitsuko’s story “Shōkichi’s Tears” is a tale about a group of urban children whose game of cops and robbers slowly evolves into something all too real. A carefully crafted work of realist fiction, Arai’s story asks the reader to identify with a working-class fifth-grade boy named Shōkichi, who is captured by his playmates after he has taken on the role of a striking worker trying to avoid the police. All the children agree that Shōkichi must be tied up in penance for his participation in the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 WRITING ON THE WALL: KABE SHŌSETSU AND THE PROLETARIAN AVANT-GARDE
    (pp. 70-123)

    In february 1931, the japanese proletarian arts journalSenki(Battle flag) published a two-page short story titled “Food in the Cafeteria” (see Figure 6), written and illustrated by two women, Sata Ineko and Arai Mitsuko.¹ This was the first incarnation in East Asia of what would become a distinctive, though short-lived, genre of the proletarian literary movement:kabe shōsetsu. These works of “wall fiction” were extremely short works of literature meant to be torn out of newsletters and magazines and posted up on public walls.² Reminiscent of the layout of woodblock prints of an earlier period, Sata and Arai’s “Food...

  7. CHAPTER 4 COMRADES-IN-ARMS: ZAINICHI COMMUNISTS, REVOLUTIONARY LOCAL COLOR, AND THE ANTINOMIES OF COLONIAL REPRESENTATION
    (pp. 124-170)

    On december 8, 1932, 638 people squeezed into the Tsukiji Theater in Tokyo, filling it well beyond its 450-person capacity. Another 300 late arrivals were left standing on the street waiting to get inside.¹ On the stage that night was to be a festival of Korean-language skits, music performances, film screenings, dances, and poetry recitations. It was the most highly attended event ever organized by the Japanese Proletarian Culture Association (KOPF), the new umbrella organization of the proletarian cultural movement led by the Japanese Communist Party. According to Zainichi artist Pak Sŏk-chŏng, the audience was filled with Koreans wearing traditional...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 171-200)
  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 201-216)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 217-228)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-229)