Organizer and Chair: Van C. Gessel, Brigham Young University
The Narrative Figure of Shunkan in the K˘waka-bukyoku Text Iw˘gashima: A
Todd Squires, Ohio State University
For most of us, the first encounter that we had with the Bishop Shunkan came during our initial reading of the Heike monogatari. The image of Shunkan that the Heike creates is that of a choleric and at times foolhardy fellow, who meets a tragic end while exiled on an island off the coast of Kyushu. Later literary treatments of the Shunkan legend, most notably Zeami's n˘ play Shunkan and Chikamatsu's j˘ruri play Heike nyogo no shima, dramatize this tragic nature of the bonze. Both of these theatrical pieces focus attention upon Kiyomori's refusal to extend his pardon to Shunkan and Shunkan's subsequent emotional parting from his two fellow exiles, Yasuyori and Naritsune.
The k˘waka-bukyoku piece Iw˘gashima constructs a narrative figure of Shunkan quite different from either the n˘ or j˘ruri versions, punctuating that it was Shunkan's impiety which caused his wretched fate. We also observe this decidedly different treatment of Shunkan in the read-lineage (yomi hon) of Heike variants (especially the Genpei j˘suiki and the Engy˘bon) that served as the source texts for this particular piece. Not only does this reinterpretation of the figure of Shunkan bespeak the importance of the connection between the written-to-be-read line of texts and performance genres, but it also suggests that we examine more closely the particular interests of the writers and readers/audiences inscribed in these works.
As with the corpus of extant k˘waka texts, Iw˘gashima is an auspicious piece performed to bring success in battle or to celebrate good fortune. In the piece under consideration here, the basic tripartite structure (introduction, conclusion followed by a felicitous phrase) has an additional developmental phase inserted before and building up to the conclusion. The development stage is subdivided further into several cycles, each concluding with a lyric segment which is combined with characteristic musical modulation. In the conclusion, Yasuyori's lengthy Shinto prayer (notto) serves as the high-point of the piece.
In this paper, I will look at how the figure of Shunkan is constructed in the k˘waka, not only in the text itself but also how narration is combined with specific musical motifs in performance. My paper will endeavor to elucidate how the exigencies of genre prescribe this particular handling of the Shunkan legend and in the process query the possible interests of the writers and patrons of this narrative art.
Mori Ogai and Tanizaki Jun'ichiro as Translators
John Timothy Wixted, Arizona State University
Mori Ogai and Tanizaki Jun'ichiro were not only famous authors, they were also famous translators. Yet as translators, they were quite different. Ogai translated a vast number of European works into Japanese, using his command of German as the medium. Tanizaki, by contrast, rendered only a few pieces from English into Japanese. Instead, he translated the Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji) from classical Japanese into the modern language no fewer than three times.
Both authors were greatly influenced in their writing by their translation work. Ogai used his translation activity to help forge a modern vernacular Japanese language, to introduce a range of European writing into Japan, and to help develop his own interests as an author. For Tanizaki, his apprenticeship as a translator was of a different order. His most famous novel, Sasame-yuki (Thin Snow, or The Makioka Sisters), is in large measure a modern version of The Tale of Genji.
This paper will discuss the two authors' translation activity and its influence both on them as writers and on the development of modern Japanese fiction and poetry. Also, Ogai's renderings will be compared with his original German and Chinese sources, while differences among the versions of Tanizaki's mammoth undertaking will be noted. The shift in translation style from the one writer to the other, as well as between the latter author's various versions, reflect an attempt to diminish the distance between high culture and its sought-for audience.
Questions of Authority: Watsuji Tetsur˘'s Emerging Poetics of Resistance and His
Role in the Shizenshugi-Shirakaba-ha Debates
Rosemary Morrison, Willamette University
In the spring of 1917, Watsuji Tetsur˘, then a struggling writer and follower of Natsume S˘seki, entered the debate between members of the Shirakaba-ha and the naturalist movement with a forceful, if not at times naive, defense of the Shirakaba-ha, and an equally forceful and far more insightful critique of the naturalist movement and its claims to political efficacy. Usui Yoshimi has written that Watsuji's entrance shifted the focus of that debate in two important ways: first, by rejecting the popular configuration that viewed the naturalists as promoters of a socially-conscious individualism and the Shirakaba-ha as its antithesis, a group of politically reactionary, aesthetic escapists; and second, by asserting that the issue most critical to any evaluation of the possible functions of literature in the modern era was the subjective stance of the author, the nature of that "authority," and its relation to both the literary text and the world at large.
Watsuji's assertions, often sketchy and half-formed, come into clearer focus when placed within the context of his other writings during this period and the events in his life. The death of S˘seki three months earlier, his troubled friendship with Tanizaki, his association with Hara Tomitar˘, ardent supporter of Rabindranath Tagore, as well as his "tenk˘" of a year earlier all prove meaningful when considered in concert with these essays. By doing just that, this paper elucidates within Watsuji's earlier thought the emergence of what Edward Said has called a "poetics of decolonization and resistance."
Mixing Memory and Desire: Tanizaki and Kawabata's Mad Old Men
Sarah A. Cox, Washington University, St. Louis
Two of this century's most widely recognized Japanese writers, Tanizaki Jun'ichiro and Kawabata Yasunari, show a surprisingly similar tendency to become more and more preoccupied with aging as they themselves age. The protagonists (both aging men) of two novels in particular, Tanizaki's Futen Rojin Nikki and Kawabata's Nemureru Bijo, reflect the authors' obsession with aging and its effects, both physical and emotional. The old men find in aging a mixture of memory and desire: memories of lost youth, of lost vigor and passion, and of the self as whole and present, along with desire to prolong life and recapture the memories of youth, as well as desire as a sexual impulse. Each of the men's old age is closely linked to eroticism, passionate and obsessive (and funny) in Tanizaki, detached and hopeless (and deadly serious) in Kawabata.
My paper examines this mixture of memory and desire, of age and eroticism, in the two novels, against a background of the authors' oeuvres. I explore the notion that desire constitutes an attempt to prevent the dissolution of the self into old age and death. Loss of sexual vigor or physical health is only one manifestation of this dissolution. The old men slowly begin to lose their places in society as part of the group, and their attempt to recapture youth seems to be an attempt to move themselves back into the "center" from the margins to which the old are relegated. Far from facing death with calm detachment or recognition that it is a passageway to a better state of being, the old men cling desperately to the things that tie them to the world and to their relations with other people, their desires.
Iwano Homei's Narrative Theory
Yoichi Nagashima, University of Copenhagen
Iwano Homei (1873-1920), one of the prominent naturalist novelists in Japan, was a phenomenon. He was eccentric, egocentric, and fanatic in every aspect, both as a man and as an author.
His literary activities, which consisted chiefly of fiction-writing and journalistic works, functioned as a symbol of his attitudes towards his 'self,' things specifically Japanese, and womankind. His authorship certainly was manifold, but it was 'homogeneous' with the thread which links his self-centeredness, his fanatic nationalism and his belief in monogamy. The key word was 'unitedness.'
The centripetal inclination of the fiction-writer Iwano Homei manifested itself in his theory of 'the monistic description' (ichigen byoosha), which is the topic of my paper.
Iwano's theory of monistic description is not of universal validity: it is rather a narrative method which exclusively goes for his 'inner naturalism.' Iwano's 'subjective' method of description in fact was a criticism of his rival Tayama Katai's 'flat description' (heimen byoosha) based on his somewhat formalistic and indifferent defeatist-like attitude towards life. Iwano demanded from the authors, including himself, a relentless and unsentimental attitude towards life and themselves, because he meant that this alone could make a description concrete and objective, and that this was the only way to satisfy the main claim of naturalism-objectivity.
His theory came to form the basis of the flowering of the watakushi shoosetsu during the 1920s and the 1930s in Japan, both in its conception of fiction and as regards narrative technique. His theory's 'conceptual' influence on the watakushi shoosetsu will be elaborated.