Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima

By Robert Jay Lifton | Go to book overview

CREATIVE RESPONSE:
1) "A-BOMB LITERATURE"

Artistic re-creation of an overwhelming historical experience has much to do with the question of mastery. Artists can apply to that experience their particular aesthetic traditions and individual talents to evolve new ways of "seeing" it and giving it form. In Hiroshima or elsewhere the relationship between the quality or popularity of artistic works and the degree of collective mastery is imprecise and difficult to evaluate. But an important relationship does exist. For these works are special distillations of group psychic response, and in their accomplishments and failures can both reflect that response and profoundly influence it.

I therefore tried to learn what I could about artistic reactions of every kind to the A-bomb, particularly in Hiroshima itself, and to a lesser extent in other parts of Japan and the rest of the world. Since the most significant efforts--in quality, number, and general influence--have been made in literature and film, all of this chapter deals with the former, and most of the next chapter with the latter. Stage, radio, and television drama, as well as painting and music, are treated more briefly. In no case shall I attempt to be all-inclusive. Rather, I shall focus upon what I consider to be the most important general themes, paying special attention to the artist's individual psychic struggles and their relation

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