ASIA212Varley

Even after he completes school and becomes a teacher

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Unformatted text preview: tential there was in prewar Japanese society. If the people were to be spurred into collective action, the appeal would have to come from the nationalistic, emperor-revering right and not from the left wing, which was primarily internationalist in outlook and opposed in particular to those elitist privileges protected by the kokutai ideology. We observed in the last chapter that the most powerful literary force in the late 1880s and early 1890s was the group of Ken’yûsha (Society of Friends of the Inkstone) novelists centered about Ozaki Kòyò, who believed that modern, realistic writing in Japanese should be modeled on the Genroku style of Saikaku. Although Ozaki and his companions remained popular favorites among the reading public through much of the 1890s, as Japan entered its age of parliamentary government and imperialist expansion, their prominence served largely to obscure the great diversity of creative activity and ferment of ideas among other writers in the literary world during this decade. The danger in any survey of Japanese literature from the 1890s on is the temptation to classify writers according to various schools, such as the romantic and the naturalist, and thereby not only fail to do justice to the individuality of major authors but also give the impression of a more orderly progression of literary trends than actually occurred. In literature, as in other cultural and intellectual pursuits, the achievement of modernity by Japan at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth brought with it a complexity of outlook and activity that defies precise categorization. Even though it is helpful to apply labels to certain groups of writers because of important characteristics they shared, such labels should not be interpreted as fixed pronouncements on their places in modern Japanese literature. One characteristic manifested by virtually all Japanese authors from Tsubouchi until at least the end of the Meiji period was their desire to describe man and his behavior as accurately and truthfully as possible. In this sense, all presumably regarded themselves as...
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