The War of Another:
Natsume Sōseki, Shiga Naoya, Shimazaki Tōson
Chuang, Osaka University
Chair: Irina Holca,
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.
Chuang, Osaka University
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.
Moinuddin, Osaka University
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
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.
Holca, Osaka University
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.
Akiyo Suzuki, Osaka University