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Unformatted text preview: ngly prominent in Olympic competition. The good showing
of Japanese swimmers at the Paris Olympics in 1924 even set off a round
of pool building in public schools.
Although not always used for edifying purposes, the phonograph and
the radio both contributed greatly to the new spread of culture, particularly in making available for the first time to all Japanese the sounds of
Western music. Among the interi or “intelligentsia,” it became fashionable to discuss the merits of, say, the playing of Kreisler or the singing of
Literature also shared in the expanding vistas of a mass culture, and
writing in the period following World War I was notable for its diversity.
If there was any common sentiment among writers of the 1920s, it was
an even more explicit concern than before with individualism.20 For this
was the heyday of Taishò democracy and Western liberal ideology in
Japan, and many writers sincerely sought to address themselves to basic
questions about the individual in a modernist society. Yet Japanese
society itself remained highly nonindividualistic, and most writers—like
their precursors of the naturalist school—appear to have been concerned
more with individuality (kosei) than with true individualism (kojin-shugi).
The dominant I-novel form was still primarily a means for inquiring into
the individual’s (usually the author’s own) ego and eccentricities rather
than into his relationship with society as a whole.
From early times the Japanese have shown a keen liking for tales of
the weird and macabre, and they have accumulated a rich literature of
such tales drawn from many sources, including legends of China, Buddhist miracle stories, and their own native fables. In the modern era the
author who has made most important use of the genre of weird and
macabre tales is Akutagawa Ryûnosuke (1892–1927). A sickly but intellectually precocious youth, Akutagawa compiled a brilliant academic
record throughout a school career that led to graduation from the English
Literature department of Tokyo Imperial University in 1916. So extensive was his knowledge of the literature and scholarship (especially philosophy) of Japan, China, and the West that one of his contemporaries
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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