Event Title

Panel 2

Location

Executive Boardroom at University Campus Center (UCC) 2390

Start Date

5-10-2014 12:45 PM

End Date

5-10-2014 2:45 PM

Description

“The Sakka Dōmei’s ‘Greatest Enemy’: Politics, Literature, and Snark in the Criticism of Hayashi Fusao’s ‘Seinen’”

Jeff E. Long, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Writing in the early 1960s literary critic Hirano Ken argued that writer Hayashi Fusao became the Japan Proletarian Writers’ League’s (Sakka Dōmei) “greatest enemy,” following his romantic interpretation of the Meiji Restoration in his historical novel Seinen (Youth). Hirano asserted that the battle over Hayashi’s critique of the Marxist interpretation of the Meiji Restoration was initiated by Hayashi in hopes of challenging the leadership of the Sakka Dōmei, and he maintains that this challenge eventually led to the dissolution of the proletarian literature movement. In this paper we will examine first the initial criticism of Hayashi’s serialization of “Seinen” by Kamei Katsuichirō and Tokunaga Sunao. Next, since Sakka Dōmei leaders deemed their analysis too restrained, we will study the increasingly scathing assessments of Hayashi’s historical novel by Kobayashi Takiji, Miyamoto Kenji, and finally a vitriolic piece by Miyamoto Yuriko whose snarky censure of Hayashi’s work was more personal and mean-spirited than analytical. The paper will end by reviewing Hayashi’s response to this criticism and with a consideration of the fight’s fallout: first, from a contemporary source in Marxist literary critic Aono Suekichi’s interpretation of the fight’s impact on the Sakka Dōmei. We will then evaluate Hirano Ken’s emphasis on Hayashi’s role as the Sakka Dōmei’s “greatest enemy.” Ultimately, this paper hopes to underscore the contributing role of snark in amplifying this battle over politics versus literature in the proletarian literature movement’s final days.

Dr. Long received his A.M. in Asian Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where his doctoral studies focused on early Shōwa militarism and the Japanese literati. Currently, he is studying the role of tenkō (conversion) in the thought and writings of Hayashi Fusao and Shimaki Kensaku, two prominent Japanese literary men during the 1930s and 40s. He is an associate professor in the Department of History at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where he teaches East Asian history.


“What Made Him So Mad?: Kobayashi Hideo Stops Reading Yoshiya Nobuko’s Women’s Friendship (Onna no yūjo)?”

Sarah Frederick, Boston University

Popular fiction writer Yoshiya Nobuko’s novel Onna no yūjo (Women’s Friendship, serialized in Fujin kurabu, 1933-34) about the thick friendship among three young women was the object of renowned critic Kobayashi Hideo’s ire and the ultimate insult, expressed in his review in Bungakkai’s December 1936 issue: “I read just a bit and then stopped. I was so furious (mukappara ga tatta) that I just could not go on.” Perhaps one might expect that Kobayashi would dislike this sort of commercial novel aimed at women. But from the start this sophisticated critic had accepted the task of a review with snarkily-low, but flexible expectations, seeking that “refreshing feeling that you get from popular novels that feel like they were written with an abacus at the author’s the side.” Instead, he felt in Yoshiya’s novel something more ambiguously infuriating and unpleasant (nani ka shira, iya na kanji). With additional attention to Yoshiya’s reactions, the paper focuses on the likely sources of Kobayashi’s unease, reading his somewhat scattered comments about “unbelievable coincidences,” “sickly-sweet dialogue,” “wild” and “muddled writing,” “salacious and incendiary narration of a wedding night,” and the “collusion between author and the child reader” that “targets children’s weakest points” and has “a style less elegant than [his] own critical remarks.” What does this accusation of collusion say about the bundan? What were the statuses of realism and believability in depicting and appealing to young women’s sexuality? What was the importance in the 1930s and beyond of such views to reception of “wilder” popular fiction styles that were inspired much more strongly by writers such as Izumi Kyoka, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, and Mori Ōgai than the naturalists? What might we learn from this review about the critical community’s reception of use of “coincidence” and artificiality in the era of modernism and mass serialized novels? The paper seeks through this snarky review fresh perspectives on debates over popular literature, women writers, and realism in modern Japanese literature.

Dr. Frederick received her PhD from the University of Chicago and is Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at Boston University where she teaches modern literature, film, and popular culture. She is the author of Turning Pages: Reading and Writing Women's Magazines in Interwar Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007), which studies literature and non-fiction writings, along with the editorial cultures, of the magazines Shufu no tomo, Fujin kōron, and Nyonin geijutsu. She has also written about photography and literature, modern kimono in literature, and expatriate women writers in the 1930s. She is currently working on a book on the life and work of Yoshiya Nobuko.


“How the “Truth” Is Sponsored: Koyama Itoko and the Controversy over Dam Site

Kōji Toba, Waseda University

When Koyama Itoko (1901-89) published her novel Dam Site in 1954, male critics expressed doubt about the “truthfulness” of the novel, and Koyama fired back that this was “an uninformed reading” on the part of the critics. The half-year debate that ensued was drawn along gender lines, pitting pro-postwar-development male critics against female writers who depicted dams as destroying an older, happier era. It was only possible for Koyama to write this work that she insisted was “truthful” by merit of the fact that she had been allowed to research the dam at the invitation of the government and power company; this, too, came to light and became part of the debate: How is “truth” political by its very nature? The debate was deemed to be unproductive mudslinging and was largely ignored, but the fault lines it laid bare give us a sense of the relationship between development and gender, and between speech and sponsorship.

Dr. Toba is a Professor of Japanese Literature at Waseda University in Tokyo. After earning his PhD at Waseda, he taught for nine years at the University of Tokushima before returning to Waseda in 2011. He researches postwar Japanese culture, focusing on the relationship between the avant-garde and reportage. He is the author of 1950-nendai: “Kiroku” no jidai (The 1950s: The Age of Reportage, Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 2010) and the editor of Abe Kōbō media no ekkyōsha (Abe Kōbō Across Media, Shinwasha, 2013).

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May 10th, 12:45 PM May 10th, 2:45 PM

Panel 2

Executive Boardroom at University Campus Center (UCC) 2390

“The Sakka Dōmei’s ‘Greatest Enemy’: Politics, Literature, and Snark in the Criticism of Hayashi Fusao’s ‘Seinen’”

Jeff E. Long, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Writing in the early 1960s literary critic Hirano Ken argued that writer Hayashi Fusao became the Japan Proletarian Writers’ League’s (Sakka Dōmei) “greatest enemy,” following his romantic interpretation of the Meiji Restoration in his historical novel Seinen (Youth). Hirano asserted that the battle over Hayashi’s critique of the Marxist interpretation of the Meiji Restoration was initiated by Hayashi in hopes of challenging the leadership of the Sakka Dōmei, and he maintains that this challenge eventually led to the dissolution of the proletarian literature movement. In this paper we will examine first the initial criticism of Hayashi’s serialization of “Seinen” by Kamei Katsuichirō and Tokunaga Sunao. Next, since Sakka Dōmei leaders deemed their analysis too restrained, we will study the increasingly scathing assessments of Hayashi’s historical novel by Kobayashi Takiji, Miyamoto Kenji, and finally a vitriolic piece by Miyamoto Yuriko whose snarky censure of Hayashi’s work was more personal and mean-spirited than analytical. The paper will end by reviewing Hayashi’s response to this criticism and with a consideration of the fight’s fallout: first, from a contemporary source in Marxist literary critic Aono Suekichi’s interpretation of the fight’s impact on the Sakka Dōmei. We will then evaluate Hirano Ken’s emphasis on Hayashi’s role as the Sakka Dōmei’s “greatest enemy.” Ultimately, this paper hopes to underscore the contributing role of snark in amplifying this battle over politics versus literature in the proletarian literature movement’s final days.

Dr. Long received his A.M. in Asian Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where his doctoral studies focused on early Shōwa militarism and the Japanese literati. Currently, he is studying the role of tenkō (conversion) in the thought and writings of Hayashi Fusao and Shimaki Kensaku, two prominent Japanese literary men during the 1930s and 40s. He is an associate professor in the Department of History at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where he teaches East Asian history.


“What Made Him So Mad?: Kobayashi Hideo Stops Reading Yoshiya Nobuko’s Women’s Friendship (Onna no yūjo)?”

Sarah Frederick, Boston University

Popular fiction writer Yoshiya Nobuko’s novel Onna no yūjo (Women’s Friendship, serialized in Fujin kurabu, 1933-34) about the thick friendship among three young women was the object of renowned critic Kobayashi Hideo’s ire and the ultimate insult, expressed in his review in Bungakkai’s December 1936 issue: “I read just a bit and then stopped. I was so furious (mukappara ga tatta) that I just could not go on.” Perhaps one might expect that Kobayashi would dislike this sort of commercial novel aimed at women. But from the start this sophisticated critic had accepted the task of a review with snarkily-low, but flexible expectations, seeking that “refreshing feeling that you get from popular novels that feel like they were written with an abacus at the author’s the side.” Instead, he felt in Yoshiya’s novel something more ambiguously infuriating and unpleasant (nani ka shira, iya na kanji). With additional attention to Yoshiya’s reactions, the paper focuses on the likely sources of Kobayashi’s unease, reading his somewhat scattered comments about “unbelievable coincidences,” “sickly-sweet dialogue,” “wild” and “muddled writing,” “salacious and incendiary narration of a wedding night,” and the “collusion between author and the child reader” that “targets children’s weakest points” and has “a style less elegant than [his] own critical remarks.” What does this accusation of collusion say about the bundan? What were the statuses of realism and believability in depicting and appealing to young women’s sexuality? What was the importance in the 1930s and beyond of such views to reception of “wilder” popular fiction styles that were inspired much more strongly by writers such as Izumi Kyoka, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, and Mori Ōgai than the naturalists? What might we learn from this review about the critical community’s reception of use of “coincidence” and artificiality in the era of modernism and mass serialized novels? The paper seeks through this snarky review fresh perspectives on debates over popular literature, women writers, and realism in modern Japanese literature.

Dr. Frederick received her PhD from the University of Chicago and is Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at Boston University where she teaches modern literature, film, and popular culture. She is the author of Turning Pages: Reading and Writing Women's Magazines in Interwar Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007), which studies literature and non-fiction writings, along with the editorial cultures, of the magazines Shufu no tomo, Fujin kōron, and Nyonin geijutsu. She has also written about photography and literature, modern kimono in literature, and expatriate women writers in the 1930s. She is currently working on a book on the life and work of Yoshiya Nobuko.


“How the “Truth” Is Sponsored: Koyama Itoko and the Controversy over Dam Site

Kōji Toba, Waseda University

When Koyama Itoko (1901-89) published her novel Dam Site in 1954, male critics expressed doubt about the “truthfulness” of the novel, and Koyama fired back that this was “an uninformed reading” on the part of the critics. The half-year debate that ensued was drawn along gender lines, pitting pro-postwar-development male critics against female writers who depicted dams as destroying an older, happier era. It was only possible for Koyama to write this work that she insisted was “truthful” by merit of the fact that she had been allowed to research the dam at the invitation of the government and power company; this, too, came to light and became part of the debate: How is “truth” political by its very nature? The debate was deemed to be unproductive mudslinging and was largely ignored, but the fault lines it laid bare give us a sense of the relationship between development and gender, and between speech and sponsorship.

Dr. Toba is a Professor of Japanese Literature at Waseda University in Tokyo. After earning his PhD at Waseda, he taught for nine years at the University of Tokushima before returning to Waseda in 2011. He researches postwar Japanese culture, focusing on the relationship between the avant-garde and reportage. He is the author of 1950-nendai: “Kiroku” no jidai (The 1950s: The Age of Reportage, Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 2010) and the editor of Abe Kōbō media no ekkyōsha (Abe Kōbō Across Media, Shinwasha, 2013).