In contrast to their relatively recent exposure to

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Unformatted text preview: iction on Western lines, other writers, motivated in part by the strongly conservative, nativistic trend of the 1880s, sought to revitalize Japanese literature by means of its own tradition. The most influential of these writers emerged from a group called the Ken’yûsha (Society of Friends of the Inkstone), founded in 1885 by Ozaki Kòyò (1867–1903) and others, who were at the time still students 262 Encounter with the West at Tokyo Imperial University. Issuing a magazine with the facetious title of The Literary Rubbish Bin (Garakuta Bunko), the members of the Ken’yûsha called for a literary renaissance through rejection of the styles of writing and themes, including the didactic and the “witty,” that had held sway in Japan from the Bunka-Bunsei epoch earlier in the century, and restoration of the great prose standards of Genroku, particularly as found in the works of Saikaku. Like the contemporary scholars of the “national essence” movement, the Ken’yûsha writers were not simply blind reactionaries. Ozaki, for example, thoroughly agreed with Tsubouchi’s dictum (presented in The Essence of the Novel ) that literature should be regarded as an independent art, not requiring justification on moralistic or other grounds. Ozaki believed, moreover, that the realism Tsubouchi sought in modern Western fiction was more readily and appropriately accessible to Japanese in the realistic writing of Saikaku. Ozaki’s own novels, written in the style of Saikaku, were enormously popular and helped stimulate the rediscovery of Genroku literature that we have already noted. Yet Ozaki and the other Ken’yûsha writers, despite their appeal to readers in the 1880s and 1890s, contributed virtually nothing to the development of the modern novel in Japan. They were almost unchallengeably powerful in the literary world of the late 1880s and early 1890s, even to the point of controlling many of the most important outlets for fictional publication; but, upon the untimely death of Ozaki in 1903, their brand of “renaissance literature” quickly gave way to other kinds of modern fictional writing whose growth had been prefigured by the...
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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.

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