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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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- Spring '13