History of literature
|Modern by century|
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Early works of Japanese literature were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan. Eventually, Japanese literature developed into a separate style in its own right as Japanese writers began writing their own works about Japan, although the influence of Chinese literature and Classical Chinese remained until the end of the Edo period. Since Japan reopened its ports to Western trading and diplomacy in the 19th century, Western and Eastern literature have strongly affected each other and continue to do so.
- 1 History
- 2 Post-war literature
- 3 Significant authors and works
- 4 Awards and contests
- 5 Resources
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Japanese Literature can be divided into four main periods: ancient, classical, medieval and modern.
Ancient literature (until 794)
Before the introduction of kanji from China, Japanese had no writing system. At first, Chinese characters were used in Japanese syntactical formats, and the result was sentences that look like Chinese but were read phonetically as Japanese. Chinese characters were further adapted, creating what is known as man'yōgana, the earliest form of kana, or syllabic writing. The earliest works were created in the Nara period. These include the Kojiki (712), a historical record that also chronicles ancient Japanese mythology and folk songs; the Nihon Shoki (720), a chronicle written in Chinese that is significantly more detailed than the Kojiki; and the Man'yōshū(759), a poetry anthology. One of the stories they describe is the tale of Urashima Tarō, which has been identified as the earliest example of a story involving time travel.
Classical literature (794–1185)
Classical Japanese literature generally refers to literature produced during the Heian period, referred to as the golden era of art and literature. Genji Monogatari (early 11th century) by a woman named Murasaki Shikibu is considered the pre-eminent masterpiece of Heian fiction and an early example of a work of fiction in the form of a novel. Other important writings of this period include the Kokin Wakashū (905), a waka-poetry anthology, and Makura no Sōshi (990s), the latter written by Murasaki Shikibu's contemporary and rival, Sei Shōnagon, as an essay about the life, loves, and pastimes of nobles in the Emperor's court. The iroha poem, now one of two standard orderings for the Japanese syllabary, was also developed during the early part of this period.
The 10th-century Japanese narrative, Taketori Monogatari, can be considered an early example of proto-science fiction. The protagonist of the story, Kaguya-hime, is a princess from the Moon who is sent to Earth for safety during a celestial war, and is found and raised by a bamboo cutter. She is later taken back to her extraterrestrial family in an illustrated depiction of a disc-shaped flying object similar to a flying saucer. Another notable piece of fictional Japanese literature was Konjaku Monogatarishū, a collection of over a thousand stories in 31 volumes. The volumes cover various tales from India, China and Japan. In this time, the imperial court particularly patronized the poets, most of whom were courtiers or ladies-in-waiting. Reflecting the aristocratic atmosphere, the poetry was elegant and sophisticated and expressed emotions in a rhetorical style. Editing the resulting anthologies of poetry soon became a national pastime.
Medieval literature (1185–1603)
During this period, Japan experienced many civil wars which led to the development of a warrior class, and subsequent war tales, histories, and related stories. Work from this period is notable for its insights into life and death, simple lifestyles, and redemption through killing. A representative work is The Tale of the Heike (1371), an epic account of the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the twelfth century. Other important tales of the period include Kamo no Chōmei's Hōjōki (1212) and Yoshida Kenkō's Tsurezuregusa (1331).
Early-modern literature (1603–1868)
Literature during this time was written during the largely peaceful Tokugawa Period (commonly referred to as the Edo Period). Due in large part to the rise of the working and middle classes in the new capital of Edo (modern Tokyo), forms of popular drama developed which would later evolve into kabuki. The jōruri and kabuki dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon became popular at the end of the 17th century, and he is also known as the Japan's Shakespeare. Matsuo Bashō wrote Oku no Hosomichi (1702), a travel diary. Hokusai, perhaps Japan's most famous woodblock print artist, also illustrated fiction as well as his famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Jippensha Ikku is also known as Japan's Mark Twain.
Many genres of literature made their début during the Edo Period, helped by a rising literacy rate among the growing population of townspeople, as well as the development of lending libraries. Although there was a minor Western influence trickling into the country from the Dutch settlement at Nagasaki, it was the importation of Chinese vernacular fiction that proved the greatest outside influence on the development of Early Modern Japanese fiction. Ihara Saikaku might be said to have given birth to the modern consciousness of the novel in Japan, mixing vernacular dialogue into his humorous and cautionary tales of the pleasure quarters. Jippensha Ikku wrote Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige, which is a mix of travelogue and comedy. Tsuga Teisho, Takebe Ayatari, and Okajima Kanzan were instrumental in developing the yomihon, which were historical romances almost entirely in prose, influenced by Chinese vernacular novels such as Three Kingdoms and Shui hu zhuan. Two yomihon masterpieces were written by Ueda Akinari: Ugetsu monogatari and Harusame monogatari wrote the extremely popular fantasy/historical romance Nansō Satomi Hakkenden in addition to other yomihon. Santō Kyōden wrote yomihon mostly set in the gay quarters until the Kansei edicts banned such works, and he turned to comedic kibyōshi. Genres included horror, crime stories, morality stories, comedy, and pornography—often accompanied by colorful woodcut prints.
Nevertheless, in the Tokugawa, as in earlier periods, scholarly work continued to be published in Chinese, which was the language of the learned much as Latin was in Europe.
Modern literature (1868–1945)
|Modern Asian literature|
The Meiji period marks the re-opening of Japan to the West, and a period of rapid industrialization. The introduction of European literature brought free verse into the poetic repertoire. It became widely used for longer works embodying new intellectual themes. Young Japanese prose writers and dramatists struggled with a whole galaxy of new ideas and artistic schools, but novelists were the first to assimilate some of these concepts successfully.
A new colloquial literature developed centering on the "I novel", with some unusual protagonists such as the cat narrator of Natsume Sōseki's Wagahai wa neko de aru (I Am a Cat). Natsume Sōseki also wrote the famous novels Botchan and Kokoro (1914). Shiga Naoya, the so-called "god of the novel", and Mori Ōgai were instrumental in adopting and adapting Western literary conventions and techniques. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa is known especially for his historical short stories. Ozaki Kōyō, Kyōka Izumi, and Ichiyo Higuchi represent a strain of writers whose style hearkens back to early-Modern Japanese literature.
In the early Meiji period (1868–1880s), Fukuzawa Yukichi authored Enlightenment literature, while pre-modern popular books depicted the quickly changing country. Then Realism was brought in by Tsubouchi Shōyō and Futabatei Shimei in the mid-Meiji (late 1880s–early 1890s) while the Classicism of Ozaki Kōyō, Yamada Bimyo and Kōda Rohan gained popularity. Ichiyō Higuchi, a rare female writer in this era, wrote short stories on powerless women of this age in a simple style in between literary and colloquial. Kyōka Izumi, a favored disciple of Ozaki, pursued a flowing and elegant style and wrote early novels such as The Operating Room (1895) in literary style and later ones including The Holy Man of Mount Koya (1900) in colloquial.
Romanticism was brought in by Mori Ōgai with his anthology of translated poems (1889) and carried to its height by Tōson Shimazaki etc. and magazines Myōjō and Bungaku-kai in early 1900s. Mori also wrote some modern novels including The Dancing Girl (1890), Wild Geese (1911), then later wrote historical novels. Natsume Sōseki, who is often compared with Mori Ōgai, wrote I Am a Cat (1905) with humor and satire, then depicted fresh and pure youth in Botchan (1906) and Sanshirô (1908). He eventually pursued transcendence of human emotions and egoism in his later works including Kokoro (1914) his last and unfinished novel Light and darkness (1916).
Shimazaki shifted from Romanticism to Naturalism which was established with his The Broken Commandment (1906) and Katai Tayama's Futon (1907). Naturalism hatched "I Novel" (Watakushi-shôsetu) that describes about the authors themselves and depicts their own mental states. Neo-romanticism came out of anti-naturalism and was led by Kafū Nagai, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Kōtarō Takamura, Hakushū Kitahara and so on in the early 1910s. Saneatsu Mushanokōji, Naoya Shiga and others founded a magazine Shirakaba in 1910. They shared a common characteristic, Humanism. Shiga's style was autobiographical and depicted states of his mind and sometimes classified as "I Novel" in this sense. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, who was highly praised by Soseki, wrote short stories including Rashōmon (1915) with an intellectual and analytic attitude, and represented Neo-realism in the mid-1910s.
During the 1920s and early 1930s the proletarian literary movement, comprising such writers as Takiji Kobayashi, Denji Kuroshima, Yuriko Miyamoto, and Ineko Sata produced a politically radical literature depicting the harsh lives of workers, peasants, women, and other downtrodden members of society, and their struggles for change.
War-time Japan saw the début of several authors best known for the beauty of their language and their tales of love and sensuality, notably Jun'ichirō Tanizaki and Japan's first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata, a master of psychological fiction. Ashihei Hino wrote lyrical bestsellers glorifying the war, while Tatsuzō Ishikawa attempted to publish a disturbingly realistic account of the advance on Nanjing. Writers who opposed the war include Denji Kuroshima, Mitsuharu Kaneko, Hideo Oguma, and Jun Ishikawa.
World War II, and Japan's defeat, deeply influenced Japanese literature. Many authors wrote stories of disaffection, loss of purpose, and the coping with defeat. Haruo Umezaki's short story Sakurajima shows a disillusioned and skeptical Navy officer stationed in a base located on the Sakurajima volcanic island, close to Kagoshima, on the southern tip of the Kyushu island. Osamu Dazai's novel The Setting Sun tells of a soldier returning from Manchukuo. Shōhei Ōoka won the Yomiuri Prize for his novel Fires on the Plain about a Japanese deserter going mad in the Philippine jungle. Yukio Mishima, well known for both his nihilistic writing and his controversial suicide by seppuku, began writing in the post-war period. Nobuo Kojima's short story "The American School" portrays a group of Japanese teachers of English who, in the immediate aftermath of the war, deal with the American occupation in varying ways.
Prominent writers of the 1970s and 1980s were identified with intellectual and moral issues in their attempts to raise social and political consciousness. One of them, Kenzaburō Ōe wrote his best-known work, A Personal Matter in 1964 and became Japan's second winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Mitsuaki Inoue had long been concerned with the atomic bomb and continued in the 1980s to write on problems of the nuclear age, while Shusaku Endo depicted the religious dilemma of the Kakure Kirishitan, Roman Catholics in feudal Japan, as a springboard to address spiritual problems. Yasushi Inoue also turned to the past in masterful historical novels of Inner Asia and ancient Japan, in order to portray present human fate.
Avant-garde writers, such as Kōbō Abe, who wrote fantastic novels such as Woman in the Dunes (1960), wanted to express the Japanese experience in modern terms without using either international styles or traditional conventions, developed new inner visions. Yoshikichi Furui tellingly related the lives of alienated urban dwellers coping with the minutiae of daily life, while the psychodramas within such daily life crises have been explored by a rising number of important women novelists. The 1988 Naoki Prize went to Shizuko Todo for Ripening Summer, a story capturing the complex psychology of modern women. Other award-winning stories at the end of the decade dealt with current issues of the elderly in hospitals, the recent past (Pure- Hearted Shopping District in Kōenji, Tokyo), and the life of a Meiji period ukiyo-e artist. In international literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, a native of Japan, had taken up residence in Britain and won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize.
Haruki Murakami is one of the most popular and controversial of today's Japanese authors. His genre-defying, humorous and surreal works have sparked fierce debates in Japan over whether they are true "literature" or simple pop-fiction: Kenzaburō Ōe has been one of his harshest critics. Some of Murakami's best-known works include Norwegian Wood (1987) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994–1995).
Banana Yoshimoto, a best-selling contemporary author whose "manga-esque" style of writing sparked much controversy when she debuted in the late 1980s, has come to be recognized as a unique and talented author over the intervening years. Her writing style stresses dialogue over description, resembling the script of a manga, and her works focus on love, friendship and loss. Her breakout work was 1988's Kitchen.
Although modern Japanese writers covered a wide variety of subjects, one particularly Japanese approach stressed their subjects' inner lives, widening the earlier novel's preoccupation with the narrator's consciousness. In Japanese fiction, plot development and action have often been of secondary interest to emotional issues. In keeping with the general trend toward reaffirming national characteristics, many old themes re-emerged, and some authors turned consciously to the past. Strikingly, Buddhist attitudes about the importance of knowing oneself and the poignant impermanence of things formed an undercurrent to sharp social criticism of this material age. There was a growing emphasis on women's roles, the Japanese persona in the modern world, and the malaise of common people lost in the complexities of urban culture.
Popular fiction, non-fiction, and children's literature all flourished in urban Japan in the 1980s. Many popular works fell between "pure literature" and pulp novels, including all sorts of historical serials, information-packed docudramas, science fiction, mysteries, detective fiction, business stories, war journals, and animal stories. Non-fiction covered everything from crime to politics. Although factual journalism predominated, many of these works were interpretive, reflecting a high degree of individualism. Children's works re-emerged in the 1950s, and the newer entrants into this field, many of them younger women, brought new vitality to it in the 1980s.
Manga (comic books) have penetrated almost every sector of the popular market. They include virtually every field of human interest, such as a multivolume high-school history of Japan and, for the adult market, a manga introduction to economics, and pornography. Manga represented between 20 and 30 percent of annual publications at the end of the 1980s, in sales of some ¥400 billion per year.
Cell phone novels appeared in the early 21st century. Written by and for cell phone users, the novels—typically romances read by young women—have become very popular both online and in print. Some, such as Love Sky, have sold millions of print copies, and at the end of 2007 cell phone novels comprised four of the top five fiction best sellers.
Famous authors and literary works of significant stature are listed in chronological order below. (Note that names of people born after 1868 are listed Western style, in accordance with ). For an exhaustive list of authors see List of Japanese authors:
- Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (c.717–785): numerous chōka and tanka in the Man'yōshū
- Ōtomo no Yakamochi (c.717–785): possible compiler of the Man'yōshū
- Ihara Saikaku (1642–1693)
- Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)
- Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–1725)
- Ueda Akinari (1734–1809)
- Yokoi Yayū (1702–1783)
- Santō Kyōden (1761–1816)
- Jippensha Ikku (1765–1831)
- Kyokutei Bakin (1767–1848)
- Nakane Kōtei (1839–1913)
- Edo Meisho Zue (travelogue, 1834)
- Hokuetsu Seppu (work of human geography, 1837)
- Koizumi Yakumo (1850-1904)
- Mori Ōgai (1862–1922)
- Futabatei Shimei (1864–1909)
- Ito Sachio (1864–1913)
- Ozaki Kōyō (1867–1903)
- Kōda Rohan (1867–1947)
- Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916)
- Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902)
- Kunikida Doppo (1871–1908)
- Tōson Shimazaki (1872–1943)
- Kyōka Izumi (1873–1939)
- Yonejiro Noguchi (1875–1947)
- Takeo Arishima (1878–1923)
- Akiko Yosano (1878–1942)
- Kafū Nagai (1879–1959)
- Naoya Shiga (1883–1971)
- Kansuke Naka (1885–1965)
- Yaeko Nogami (1885–1985)
- Takuboku Ishikawa (1886–1912)
- Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1886–1965)
- Kan Kikuchi (1888–1948)
- Hyakken Uchida (1889–1971)
- Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1892–1927)
- Edogawa Rampo (1894–1965)
- Eiji Yoshikawa (1892–1962)
- Mitsuharu Kaneko (1895–1975)
- Kenji Miyazawa (1896–1933)
- Chiyo Uno (1897–1996)
- Denji Kuroshima (1898–1943)
- Shigeji Tsuboi (1898–1975)
- Masuji Ibuse (1898–1993)
- Jun Ishikawa (1899–1987)
- Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)
- Yuriko Miyamoto (1899–1951)
- Sakae Tsuboi (1900–1967)
- Hideo Oguma (1901–1940)
- Motojirō Kajii (1901–1932)
- Takiji Kobayashi (1903–1933)
- Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951)
- Tamiki Hara (1905-1951)
- Tatsuzō Ishikawa (1905–1985)
- Fumiko Enchi (1905–1986)
- Ango Sakaguchi (1906–1955)
- Osamu Dazai (1909–1948)
- Shōhei Ōoka (1909–1988)
- Sakunosuke Oda (1913–1947)
- Haruo Umezaki (1915-1965)
- Ayako Miura (1922–1999)
- Shusaku Endo (1923–1996)
- Ryōtarō Shiba (1923–1996)
- Kōbō Abe (1924–1993)
- Toyoko Yamasaki (1924–2013)
- Yukio Mishima (1925–1970)
- Akiyuki Nosaka (1930–)
- Sawako Ariyoshi (1931–1984)
- Ayako Sono (1931-)
- Hisashi Inoue (1933–2010)
- Kenzaburō Ōe (1935–)
- Michiko Yamamoto (1936–)
- Kenji Nakagami (1946–1992)
- Haruki Murakami (1949–)
- Natsuo Kirino (1951–)
- Ryū Murakami (1952–)
- Banana Yoshimoto (1964–)
Awards and contests
- Birnbaum, A., (ed.). Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction. Kodansha International (JPN).
- Modern Japanese Literature, Grove Press, 1956. ISBN 0-384-17254-X
- World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of The Pre-Modern Era 1600–1867, Columbia University Press © 1976 reprinted 1999 ISBN 0-231-11467-2
- Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era, Poetry, Drama, Criticism, Columbia University Press © 1984 reprinted 1998 ISBN 0-231-11435-4
- Travellers of a Hundred Ages: The Japanese as Revealed Through 1,000 Years of Diaries, Columbia University Press © 1989 reprinted 1999 ISBN 0-231-11437-0
- Seeds in the Heart: Japanese Literature from the Earliest Times to the Late Sixteenth Century, Columbia University Press © 1993 reprinted 1999 ISBN 0-231-11441-9
- McCullough, Helen Craig, Classical Japanese prose : an anthology, Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-8047-1628-5
- Miner, Earl Roy, Odagiri, Hiroko, and Morrell, Robert E., The Princeton companion to classical Japanese literature, Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-691-06599-3
- Ema Tsutomu, Taniyama Shigeru, Ino Kenji, Shinshū Kokugo Sōran (新修国語総覧) Kyoto Shobō © 1977 revised 1981 reprinted 1982
- List of Japanese authors
- List of Japanese classic texts
- Japanese poetry
- Aozora Bunko for a repository of Japanese literature
- Japanese detective fiction
- Japanese science fiction
- Light novel
- Yorke, Christopher (February 2006), "Malchronia: Cryonics and Bionics as Primitive Weapons in the War on Time",
- Richardson, Matthew (2001), The Halstead Treasury of Ancient Science Fiction, Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales: Halstead Press, )
- Earl, David Margery, Emperor and Nation in Japan; Political Thinkers of the Tokugawa Period, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1964, p 12
- Goodyear, Dana (2008-12-22). "I ♥ Novels". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
Online text libraries
- Japanese Text Initiative, University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center
- Aozora: A Japanese version of Project Gutenberg that contains many old novels, short stories, and essays.
- Premodern Japanese Texts and Translations, Michael Watson, Meiji Gakuin University
- National Institute of Japanese Literature (国文学研究資料館) and its service for searching the text of Iwanami Shoten’s 100-volume Nihon koten bungaku taikei (日本古典文學大系) anthology of classical Japanese texts (Japanese)
- J－Texts (日本文学電子図書館) Many text of Japanese classical literature (Japanese)
- The Shinchō Bunko “100 books” series, CD-ROM version and a list of electronic texts (Japanese)
- Japan Association of Literary and Linguistic Computing (JALLC) FTP text archives (Japanese)
- Japan P.E.N. Club digital library (Japanese)
- 電子図書館 書籍デジタル化委員会 A digital library (Japanese)
- A mini-collection of modern Japanese literature, X. Jie Yang, University of Calgary
- Japanese Literature Publishing Project, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan
- Japanese Book News Website, the Japan Foundation
- Bibliography for Research in Japanese Literature, Haruo Shirane, Columbia University
- The Japanese Literature Home Page, Mark Jewel, Waseda University
- Japanese Literature Resources Page, Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, Creighton University
- Japan Cultural Profile: national portal for culture in Japan created by Visiting Arts, Japan Foundation
- Literary figures associated with Kamakura at Kamakura GreenNet, the City of Kamakura website
- A list of text files of Japanese literature (Japanese)
- Another list of text files of Japanese literature from the Nara period to modern (Japanese)
- Yet another list of text files of Japanese literature (Japanese)
- Electronic texts of pre-modern Japanese literature by Satoko Shimazaki
- List of literary awards for fiction and nonfiction.
- List of museums in Japan dedicated to specific authors (Japanese)