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Unformatted text preview: icians took
the lead in demanding a “clarification of the national polity.” The issue
raged in the press throughout 1935, and by the end of the year Minobe
was formally charged with lèse majesté. He resigned from the faculty of
Tokyo Imperial University and was drummed out of the House of Peers;
his books were banned and, the following year, he was wounded in an
attempt on his life.
To a great extent this era of mounting militarism, domestic suppression, and impending cataclysm was a time when most Japanese manifested an intense passion for escapist entertainment that was labeled by
its critics as a conglomeration of “the erotic, the grotesque, and the nonsensical.” Included within this category were dance halls and girlie
revues, the yo-yo, miniature golf, crossword puzzles, and mahjong. Interestingly, despite growing chauvinism and xenophobia, nearly all of these
escapist entertainments were imports from the West.
An exception to the depressed state of the arts during the militarist
era was the rise to prominence of one of Japan’s finest modern novelists,
Kawabata Yasunari (1899–1972), who in 1968 became the first Japanese recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. Kawabata began writing
professionally in the mid-1920s as a member of a group of authors
known as Neoperceptionists or Neosensualists (shinkankaku-ha), who
attacked the excessively scientific, clinical approach to literature of both
the naturalist and proletarian schools and called for a return to purely The Fruits of Modernity 299 artistic values and emotional sensitivity in fiction writing. The Neoperceptionists regarded themselves as the avant-garde movement of literary
modernism and professed an interest in all manner of contemporary
European art credos, including Dada and Surrealism. But the movement
never established a distinctive identity, and Kawabata, its most important
member, eventually located his deepest artistic wellsprings in the native
literary tradition, rather than in the essentially Western ideas of Neoperceptionism.
Speaking of the native literary tradition in ter...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13