Session 46

The War of Another: Natsume Sōseki, Shiga Naoya, Shimazaki Tōson 
Organizer: Chien-Hui Chuang, Osaka University 
Chair: Irina Holca, Osaka University 

This panel looks at the way war is described in the works of three major novelists of Japan's modernity, who experienced the Sino-Japanese, Russo-Japanese or First World War, either from the safe distance of the Japanese land or from the position of a foreigner to the land. While from a historical point of view war is often discussed as a decisive moment in the reshuffling/ crystallization of the concepts about national identity, the effect it has on personal identity often constitutes the main theme of literary works. 

Our panel will focus on war as a personal, though indirect experience, as “the war of another”, which nonetheless affects the “self” in subtle ways. The protagonists of Sōseki's “Sorekara”, Naoya's “Jūichi Gatsu Mikka Gogo no Koto” and Tōson's “Shinsei” never head out to the front themselves, but are mere spectators of somebody else's war, and it is exactly from their position that they can shed a new light on the dramatic clash of powers they are witnessing. 

First, Ms. Chuang will analyze the ambivalent attitude that Daisuke, the protagonist of “Sorekara”, takes towards war, and by doing so, the ambivalence of war itself. Then, Mr. Moinuddin will turn his attention to the quasi-indifferent public attitude towards stationed and returnee troops, an indifference that can also be interpreted as criticism. Last, Ms. Holca will focus on how, in “Shinsei”, the experience of a foreign war in a foreign land is described in close connection with the main character's other, more private, experiences. 

 1) Chien-Hui Chuang, Osaka University 
Weariness of War in Natsume Sōseki's Novels 

Natsume Sōseki is one of the most famous writers of modern Japan and his works have been researched from various points of view. However, few scholars relate his novels to the war. During Sōseki's lifetime, Japan was involved in the Sino-Japanese (1895-1896) and the Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) wars, though no battles actually took place in Japan. The Russo-Japanese war is often referred to in Sōseki's novels; for example, in "Sorekara" Daisuke, the main character, refuses to work for his living and is economically dependant upon the allowance his father provides him. Thus, even though he asserts that he hates war, he accepts to live on the money his father had actually earned as a result of the Russo-Japanese war. 

On the other hand, in "Mon", "Kusamakura" and "Botchan" only the name of the war is briefly mentioned, without describing the way it had affected people’s lives. The protagonists of the above-mentioned novels have a very passive attitude towards war, for example some of them even consider that going to the front is madness. 

In my presentation, I will compare these two different ways in which war appears in Sōseki's works, in an attempt to shed light upon the way in which war is experienced by the people who do not take part in it actively in the battlefields. 

 2) Md Moinuddin, Osaka University 
Scattered Soldiers, Smoke and Gunpowder in Shiga Naoya's Novellas 

Literature has always worked as a catalyst for releasing deep down memories, feelings and thoughts, and it has done so also in the case of the very delicate subject of war. 

Shiga Naoya is one of the most important and influential writers of modern Japanese literature. It cannot be ruled out that his style is so distinctly Japanese that it cannot be effectively translated. This, perhaps, may account for his popularity in Japan and his relative overseas obscurity. Naoya is known, above all, for the craftsmanship and evocative power of his writing, the power of careful use of language and terminologies. Naoya's writing is largely concentrated on his personal experience and gives an impression of family drama. Because of this, his works that portrait his view towards war have been overlooked by a large number of scholars. "Jūichi Gatsu Mikka Gogo no Koto" is one of these novellas, that focuses on soldiers preparing for war. The novella tries to give an overview of the wretched condition of soldiers, but previous research rarely talks about war as depicted in it. 

In the proposed study I would like to look at the way war is viewed by Shiga Naoya through his writing. "Jūichi Gatsu Mikka Gogo no Koto" will be the main focus of my study, but I will also consider "Haha no Shi to Atarashii Haha", "Ōtsū Junkichi", etc, in order to analyze Naoya's view of war in the best manner possible. 

 3) Irina Holca, Osaka University 
The Rhetoric of Love, Lust and War in Shimazaki Tōson's “Shinsei” 

"Shinsei", the novel about the scandalous love-story between middle-aged Kishimoto and his niece is as much a highlight in Shimazaki Tōson’s literary activity as the events described therein had been the darkest period in the author’s private life. 

When analyzing "Shinsei", stress is usually laid on the novel’s confessional character, "confession" being understood both as religious experience (the stay in France had helped Tōson reconnect with European culture and Christianity as one of its main elements), and as the essence of Japanese realism (the novel was written as a penitence for Tōson’s incest). Nevertheless, one aspect that has been insufficiently discussed is the effect the outbreak of World War One had on the main character. In my presentation, I intend to focus on Kishimoto’s unique experience of, and perspective on, living out a foreign war taking place in a foreign land. I will also analyze the way in which Kishimoto, fugitive from his own lust, is chased away from Paris by the manifestations of a deeper lust, that for power. Last but not least, I will pay special attention to how women left behind the lines are described, in order to attempt to draw a parallel between them and the niece Kishimoto himself had left behind. 

In my analysis, I will also refer to other works by Tōson in which mention of Europe and the First World War is made, such as “Heiwa no Pari”, “Sensō no Pari”, etc. 

Discussant: Akiyo Suzuki, Osaka University