Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Creekmur, Corey

Second Advisor

Yoshimoto, Mitsuhiro


In my thesis, I examine the discursive space of the detective fiction genre following Kasai Kiyoshi's periodization in his two-volume seminal work Tantei shosetsuron (The Theory of Detective Fiction, 1998). I investigate how Japanese detective fiction has developed in relation to Japan's modernization, industrialization, nationalism, and globalization, specifically in the 1920s-30s, the 1950s-60s, and from the 1990s to present. By historicizing the discursive formation of the genre in decisive moments in Japanese history, I examine how Japanese detective fiction delineated itself as a modern popular literature differentiating itself from serious literature (junbungaku) and also from other genres of popular fiction (taishu bungaku). My study exposes the socio-political, cultural and literary conditions that conditioned the emergence of the detective fiction genre as a problematic of Japanese society, stitching fantasy and desire for the formation of the national subject in the cultural domain.

I investigate the dynamics through which Japanese detective fiction negotiates its particularity as a genre differentiating itself from the Western model and domestically from the conventional crime stories of the Edo and Meiji periods. Chapters One through Three of my study examine Japan's socio-cultural contexts after the Russo-Japanese war, specifically magazine culture and the rise of the detective fiction genre (Chapter I), the I-novel tradition and its relation to the genre (Chapter II), and representations of Tokyo as an urban center, focusing on Edogawa Ranpo's "Inju" (Beast in the Shadows, 1928) (Chapter III). Chapters Four through Six investigate the socio-cultural contexts after World War II, especially Japan's democratization in the 1950s-60s and the rearticulation of the genre through repeated debates about authenticities in Japanese detective fiction (Chapter IV), and the transition from tantei shosetsu (detective fiction) to suiri shosetsu (mystery) focusing on Yokomizo Seishi's Honjin satsujin jiken (The Honjin Murder Case, 1946) and Matsumoto Seicho's Ten to sen (Points and Lines, 1957) as representative works of the two trends (Chapter V), and finally the postmodern "return" to the prewar tradition in the 1990s (Chapter VI).


Modern Japanese Literature, Detective Fiction and Mystery, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, Intellectual History in Japan, Popular Culture


ix, 267 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 257-267).


Copyright 2007 Satomi Saito