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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
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.
- Spring '13