The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature
Joshua S. Mostow, Kirk A. Denton, Bruce Fulton, Lewis Cook
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This extraordinary one-volume guide to the modern literatures of China, Japan, and Korea is the definitive reference work on the subject in the English language. With more than one hundred articles that show how a host of authors and literary movements have contributed to the general literary development of their respective countries, this companion is an essential starting point for the study of East Asian literatures. Comprehensive thematic essays introduce each geographical section with historical overviews and surveys of persistent themes in the literature examined, including nationalism, gender, family relations, and sexuality.
Following the thematic essays are the individual entries: over forty for China, over fifty for Japan, and almost thirty for Korea, featuring everything from detailed analyses of the works of Tanizaki Jun'ichiro and Murakami Haruki, to far-ranging explorations of avant-garde fiction in China and postwar novels in Korea. Arrayed chronologically, each entry is self-contained, though extensive cross-referencing affords readers the opportunity to gain a more synoptic view of the work, author, or movement. The unrivaled opportunities for comparative analysis alone make this unique companion an indispensable reference for anyone interested in the burgeoning field of Asian literature.
Although the literatures of China, Japan, and Korea are each allotted separate sections, the editors constantly kept an eye open to those writers, works, and movements that transcend national boundaries. This includes, for example, Chinese authors who lived and wrote in Japan; Japanese authors who wrote in classical Chinese; and Korean authors who write in Japanese, whether under the colonial occupation or because they are resident in Japan. The waves of modernization can be seen as reaching each of these countries in a staggered fashion, with eddies and back-flows between them then complicating the picture further. This volume provides a vivid sense of this dynamic interplay.
hinin (nonpeople) was more complicated: in 1869 they were redesignated senmin (the lowly). In 1871 this structure was modified, and the senmin were redesignated shin-heimin (new commoners)—a category meant to raise them to equality with all other nonpeer Japanese, but which in fact allowed for continued discrimination against them because the prefix shin (“new”) distinguished them from all the other heimin (Kawauchi 1990:146). The emperor remained in a class of his own, and was, in fact, during
but the most limited trade with Europe in 1615, the cultures and technologies of Asia and Europe were not all that far apart, and European travelers to Asia had often been impressed by what they saw. Korea, for example, utilized movable metal-type printing presses as early as the thirteenth century, well before Gutenburg’s innovations. Asia was confronted by a much-changed Europe in the early nineteenth century. The industrialized countries needed outlets for their products, and the international
novel, symbolized repeatedly by gushing blood, is starkly contrasted with the stainless white purity of Shizu. Although Sensei wants to pass on his acquired wisdom, cynicism, and selfhood to the student through his life story, he wants to keep his wife ignorant Natsume Soseki 91 of these peculiarly masculine struggles with modernity. From this and many of his other works it would be easy to read Soseki as an unapologetic misogynist, in a mold common to the gender discourse of his time and not
confession lasted only into the 1920s, the popularity and critical valorization of “personal” novels that straddled the divide between autobiography and fiction lasted much longer, well into the postwar period. Some critics have related this to the Japanese linguistic and epistemological preference for reporting only the phenomena to which the speaker has direct access through his or her own senses. (See “The Problem of the Modern Subject.”) The veracity, accuracy and sincerity—the truth value—of
of the wartime period in prison, are commonly recognized as having withdrawn from the war effort and refrained from supporting Japan’s military activities (Keene 1971:301). But the roster of writers and intellectuals who did take part in government-sponsored activ- 176 Wartime Fiction ities and supported the war more or less enthusiastically included the stars of the Japanese literary establishment, such as writers Ozaki Shiro (1896–1964) and Yoshiya Nobuko (1896–1973), critics Kobayashi