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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.
- Spring '13