The Politics and Literature Debate in Postwar Japanese Criticism, 1945-52
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The Politics and Literature Debate in Postwar Japanese Criticism, 1945-52

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In the wake of its defeat in World War II, as Japan was forced to remake itself from "empire" to "nation" in the face of an uncertain global situation, literature and literary criticism emerged as highly contested sites. Today, this remarkable period holds rich potential for opening new dialogue between scholars in Japan and North America as we rethink the historical and contemporary significance of a number of important issues, including the meaning of the American occupation both inside and outside of Japan, the shifting semiotics of "literature" and "politics," and the origins of crucial ideological weapons of the cultural Cold War. This collection features works by Japanese intellectuals written in the immediate postwar period. These writings-many appearing in English for the first time-offer explorations into the social, political, and philosophical debates among Japanese literary elites that shaped the country's literary culture in the aftermath of defeat.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 358 pages
  • 160 x 238 x 27mm | 640g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 0739180754
  • 9780739180754

About Atsuko Ueda

Atsuko Ueda is associate professor of modern Japanese literature in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. Michael K. Bourdaghs is professor of modern Japanese literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Richi Sakakibara is professor of modern Japanese literature at Waseda University. Hirokazu Toeda is professor of modern Japanese literature at Waseda University.show more

Review quote

This ambitious volume provides a long-missing perspective on Japanese literary production in the vortex of the immediate postwar. Indeed, one could argue we have been hard-pressed to understand the full import of postwar Japanese literature without it. Brought to life in translations by distinguished scholars, these essays allow us at last to situate fiction and poetry of the time in the context of the fraught intellectual debates of a society emerging from fascism. Moreover, in their passion and their sheer detail and nuance, these essays dissolve facile oppositions between communism and individualism, the aesthetic and the political, that have shaped Cold War frameworks for the study of Japan. Rather, they illuminate the commingling of modernism, Marxism, and existentialism in a vein of humanist discourse that could be said to constitute the specificity of Japan in the global postwar. -- Brett de Bary, Cornell University This collection captures the energy and intensity of the exchange among Japanese writers and literary critics, known as the 'Literature and Politics Debate' (1946-47), in which the autonomous status of literature was defended against the primacy of politics that the resurgent Marxist discourse powerfully promoted. The concise introduction and extensive annotations situate this intellectual debate within a larger historical context and offer a nuanced understanding of the controversy. Masterfully translated, the essays in this volume serve as essential sources for understanding the Japanese intellectual climate in the early postwar years. -- Yoshikuni Igarashi, Vanderbilt Universityshow more

Table of contents

Introduction, Atsuko Ueda, Michael K. Bourdaghs, Richi Sakakibara, and Hirokazu Toeda Part I: The Politics and Literature Debate Chapter 1: Art, History, Humanity, Honda Shugo (Translated by Scott Mehl, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 2: Second Youth, Ara Masahito (Translated and annotated by William H. Bridges and Junko Yamazaki) Chapter 3: Who Are the People?, Ara Masahito (Translated by David Boyd, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 4: The Responsibility of Writers: A Roundtable Discussion, Ara Masahito, Odagiri Hideo, Sasaki Kiichi, Haniya Yutaka, Hirano Ken, and Honda Shugo (Translated by Patrick Schwemmer and Tomoko Takeuchi Slutsky, annotated by Noriko Yamaguchi) Chapter 5: An Antithesis, Hirano Ken (Translated and annotated by Junko Yamazaki, with William H. Bridges, Patrick Schwemmer, Kaori Shiono, Joshua Solomon, Mariko Takano, and Noriko Yamaguchi) Chapter 6: Establishing Criteria, Hirano Ken (Translated and annotated by Miyabi Goto) Chapter 7: Politics and Literature, Hirano Ken (Translated and annotated by Sarah Allen, Miyabi Goto, and Mariko Takano) Chapter 8: The Humanity of Criticism: Concerning Hirano Ken and Ara Masahito, Nakano Shigeharu (Translated and annotated by Joshua Solomon and Kaori Shiono) Chapter 9: What Is the Primacy of Politics?, Hirano Ken (Translated and annotated by Miyabi Goto and Ron Wilson) Chapter 10: Politics and Literature II, Hirano Ken (Translated by Nicholas Lambrecht, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 11: The Humanity of Criticism II: On the Literary Reaction, et Cetera, Nakano Shigeharu (Translated and annotated by Joshua Solomon and Kaori Shiono) Part II: Contemporaneous Essays Chapter 12: Rationed Freedom, Kawakami Tetsutaro (Translated by Atsuko Ueda, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 13: The Role of the Writer as National Citizen, Nakano Shigeharu (Translated by Scott W. Aalgaard, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 14: The Social Foundations of a New Japanese Literature, Kurahara Korehito (Translated by Kerim Yasar, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 15: An Inquiry into War Responsibility in Literature, Odagiri Hideo (Translated by James Dorsey, annotated by James Dorsey and Richi Sakakibara) Chapter 16: Subjectivity in the Creation of a New Literature: Thoughts for a New Stage, Odagiri Hideo (Translated and annotated by James Dorsey) Chapter 17: Founding Words: A Manifesto, Ara Masahito, Odagiri Hideo, and Sasaki Kiichi (Translated by James Dorsey, annotated by James Dorsey and Richi Sakakibara) Chapter 18: On Wifely Literature, Hirano Ken (Translated and annotated by Michael K. Bourdaghs) Chapter 19: On the New Stars and Violets School, Kato Shuichi (Translated by Doug Slaymaker, annotated by Richi Sakakibara and Mariko Takano) Chapter 20: The Logic of Delirium, Hanada Kiyoteru (Translated and annotated by J. Keith Vincent) Chapter 21: A Chart of the Heavenly Bodies: On Copernicus, Hanada Kiyoteru (Translated and annotated by J. Keith Vincent) Part III: The Afterlives of the Debates Chapter 22: The Specter of the "Censorship System": Record of the Chatterley Trial, Nakamura Mitsuo (Translated and annotated by Joshua Solomon and Kaori Shiono) Chapter 23: The Ideology of the Modern and the Problem of the Ethnic Nation, Takeuchi Yoshimi (Translated and annotated by Sarah Allen) Chapter 24: Literature under the Occupation, Nakamura Mitsuo (Translated by Atsuko Ueda, annotated by Richi Sakakibara)show more