The Literary Theory of Shimamura Hôgetsu (1871-1918) and the Development of Feminist Discourse in Modern Japan

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Argues for a reassessment of Hôgetsu’s naturalism as a multifaceted theoretical model rather than an aberration of its original Western counterpart.


“. . . Tomasi provides in this book a contextual reading that demonstrates the true merits of Hôgetsu’s work. In doing so, he has contributed to the reshaping of modern Japanese literary history . . .” - Prof. Suzuki Sadami, International Research Center for Japanese Studies

“By focusing on the single life of Shimamura Hôgetsu, Tomasi is able to harness this complicated story into a workable narrative. In so doing, he introduces readers to an amazing literary personage who has inexplicably been overlooked in Japanese literary history. . . . an invaluable addition to studies of Japanese literary history.”- Prof. Rebecca Copeland, Washington University in St. Louis

“. . . will become essential reading for students and scholars of modern Japan . . . Tomasi’s meticulous scholarship, which sheds a much-needed light on the scale—and interplay—of Hôgetsu’s many contributions, will doubtless help secure his rightful place among the great cultural figures of his age.” - Prof. Judith Rabinovitch, University of Montana

Table of Contents

Shimamura Hôgetsu (1871-1918) was one of the most intriguing and pivotal literary figures of modern Japan. He was deeply involved in literary criticism, the study of aesthetics and rhetoric, and the presentation of Western drama to the Japanese public. This book investigates his scholarly contributions, providing unequivocal evidence of his centrality to modern Japanese literary and intellectual history. This work explores the debate that characterized the evolution of modern literary language in Japan, describing Hôgetsu’s key role in the acceptance of the vernacular in the process of literary signification. It fills a vacuum in Japanese literary history not only because it elucidates the multifaceted character of Japanese naturalism, but also because it explores through the magnifying glass of a single critic’s perspective, the complex and varied process of Japan’s modernization, as it unfolded in linguistic, literary, dramatic and feminist discourse.

Preface by Prof. Suzuki Sadami
Introduction – The Case for Shimamura Hôgetsu
1. Hôgetsu’s Legacy
2. “At the Crossroads of Philosophy and Literature:” The Impact of Hôgetsu’s Thought on the Meiji and Taishô Bundan
Part I: The Question of Language
3. The Rise of a New Poetic Form: Hôgetsu and the Development of Modern Chinese Poetry
4. Reconciling the Irreconcilable: Hôgetsu New Conception of Rhetorical Refinement and the Quest for a Modern Written Language
Part II: The Construction of Japanese Naturalism
5. The Premise of Hôgetsu’s Naturalism: A Call for the Liberation of Literature and the Assertion of Self
6. Hôgetsu and the Theoretical Establishment of the Naturalist School
7. The Separation of Art and Life
Part III: The Feminist Debate
8. Hôgetsu, the Feminist: Art, Theater, and Women’s Rights
Epilogue – Hôgetsu’s Redemption

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