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Unformatted text preview: its time. He had long suffered from various physical ailments and from fits of mental depression,
and he may even have been schizophrenic. Still, the apparent care and
deliberateness with which he planned his death chillingly implied to many
people a far more profound intellectual and emotional despair. In his suicide note Akutagawa referred only to a feeling of “vague anxiety,” but
others have chosen to interpret his act, on the one hand, in broadly social
terms (for example, as a protest against the moral vacuity of Taishò–
early Shòwa25 life) and, on the other hand, as an inevitable end result of
the predominantly negative aspect of creativity observable in so many
modern Japanese writers. If one accepts the latter thesis, Akutagawa
may be seen as setting the model for the suicides in the post–World War
II period of Dazai Osamu and Mishima Yukio.
If there was any general sense of moral vacuity in the literary world at
the time of Akutagawa’s death, one group of writers that should at least
be credited with trying to fill it was the Communist-oriented proletarians.
The Japanese Communist Party, founded in 1922, had its roots in the
radical, anarchosyndicalist branch of the sot movement that had
sprung into notoriety in the first decade of the century and had been
crushed after the alleged 1910 plot to assassinate the Meiji emperor. We
have seen that despite ostensibly favorable conditions for the growth of
radicalism after World War I, the left wing as a whole was able to accomplish little in Japan. The Communist Party in particular found itself from
the start beset with great difficulties. Not the least of these was the inability of its members to agree on ideological matters. Some Marxists,
for example, asserted that, because the Japanese government was a fully
bourgeois-dominated, capitalistic regime, efforts should be made to precipitate its overthrow by the proletariat. Others insisted that Japan had
still not experienced a bourgeois revolution,...
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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