Like the contemporary scholars of the national

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Unformatted text preview: s media, and acceptance of the Tokyo dialect as the standard form of speech, the modern Japanese vernacular or kògo was finally evolved, although it was not used widely by novelists until after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, by the authors of primary school textbooks until 1903, or by newspaper reporters in general until a decade after that. The man who more than any other made possible the writing of a 260 Encounter with the West modern prose literature in Japan was Tsubouchi Shòyò (1859–1935).22 A graduate of Tokyo Imperial University and translator of the collected works of Shakespeare, Tsubouchi published an epochal tract in 1885 entitled The Essence of the Novel (Shòsetsu Shinzui). In it he attacked what he regarded as the deplorable state of literature in Japan during his day: It has long been the custom in Japan to consider the novel as an instrument of education, and it has frequently been proclaimed that the novel’s chief function is the castigation of vice and the encouragement of virtue. In actual practice, however, only stories of bloodthirsty cruelty or else of pornography are welcomed, and very few readers indeed even cast so much as a glance on works of a more serious nature. Moreover, since popular writers have no choice but to be devoid of self-respect and in all things slaves to public fancy and the lackeys of fashion, each one attempts to go to greater lengths than the last in pandering to the tastes of the time. They weave their brutal historical tales, string together their obscene romances, and yield to every passing vogue. Nevertheless they find it so difficult to abandon the pretext of “encouraging virtue” that they stop at nothing to squeeze in a moral, thereby distorting the emotion portrayed, falsifying the situations, and making the whole plot nonsensical.23 Tsubouchi insisted that the novel must be regarded as art, to be appreciated solely for its own sake. He urged that Western, and particularly English, literature be taken as the model for a new kind of novelistic...
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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 UBC.

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