Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology

Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology

Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology

Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology

Excerpt

Contemporary literature in Japan, despite its remote ancestry, may be regarded as a new literature, scarcely beyond its formative stage. The Meiji Restoration, which ended two and a half centuries of strictest seclusion, marked a departure in Japanese writing, as it did in politics, education, and so many other fields. For a general understanding of the modern Japanese novel or short story it is hardly necessary to go back more than a century. The Japanese language has undergone a continuous development since the earliest times and to this extent modern fiction derives stylistically from classical and medieval writing. Even here, however, the Restoration had an important effect by bringing the literary language closer to that of ordinary speech. The major influences can be found among works of foreign literature introduced into Japan after about 1860 and among certain important Japanese writers of the Meiji period.

This introduction cannot attempt to present a systematic history of modern Japanese literature, but it may be worthwhile to indicate a few general trends that can help the reader to view in context the twenty-five stories presented here. A note concerning each of the twenty-five authors and his place in modern Japanese writing has been placed before his story.

The historical approach has many dangers. Too much concentration on "social backgrounds," "literary influences," and "schools of writing" may lead us to read the stories, not as independent works, but as representatives of some particular period, and to regard their writers, not as unique individuals having their own views of life and their . . .

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