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Modern Japan and Natsume S ō seki Modernity, Buddhism and Literature.

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1 Modern Japan and Natsume S ō seki Modernity, Buddhism and Literature

2 What constitutes modernity and Modern Japan? How are we to define modernity? Adoption of modern political and economic systems: capitalism, democracy Rationalization (Disenchantment of the world Weber), Secularism, Individualism A modern attitude: radicalized consciousness which frees itself from all specific historical ties (Habermas) abstract temporality of qualitative newness (Koselleck) Buddhism and Modern Japan: What role did Buddhism play in the rise of Modern Japan? What role did Buddhism play in secularism? Lafleur: Buddhist critique of symbols Modernity and Buddhism in the Literary arts of Japan: How did Literature both express and become the means to effect these changes? What role does Buddhism play in modern literature?

3 The Coming of the West

4 Meiji : The Age of Enlightened Rule Sonn ō j ō i Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians ( ) Meiji Restoration of 1868: restoration of the Imperial power, Emperor Meiji (r. 1868-1912) All domains under Imperial control, modern nation-state Abolish class system, samurai Promulgation of the Meiji Constitution in 1889: constitutional monarchy, parliament

5 Cultural Struggles during Meiji 1868-mid 1880s Imitating the West Missions to the West: Iwakura Mission in 1871-3 Bunmei kaika Civilization and Enlightenment Introduction of Western technology, politics and economics Introduction of Western customs: dress, meat-eating 1880s Reaffirming and Redefining Japan Leadership concerned over liberalism, individualism Conflict between public good and strong self-interests Imperial Rescript of Education in 1890 Invention of Japan and Japaneseness


7 From Heretics to Martyrs Critiques of Buddhism during the Tokugawa period Nativist scholars criticized Buddhism as a foreign religion Separation of Buddhism and Shinto in 1868: both redefined by their seperation Persecution of Buddhism: Haibutsu kishaku Abolish Buddhism, Destroy Sakyamuni Disestablishment of Buddhism in 1871-2 Refiguring of the Buddhist tradition: A tool to resist Western hegemony, Christianity; essence of pan-Asian spirituality

8 Translation and Transformation Translating the West: Early translations of Political treatises Samuel Smiles Self-help 1871; John Stuart Mills On Liberty 1872 Translations and Adaptations of Western Literature Edward Bulwer-Lytton Ennest Maltravers 1878 New Words and Disciplines: Neologisms: kojin individual ; shakai society ; kenri human rights ; jiy ū freedom ; kokumin nation New disciplines: bungaku literature ; kagaku science ; tetsugaku philosophy New usages: sh ū ky ō religion ; sh ō setsu novel

9 Transformations: Language and Literature Tsubouchi Sh ō y ō s Sh ō setsu Shinzui (The Essence of the Novel 1885): praises the novel as a literary form Criticizes didacticism, weak characterization and loosely constructed plots Advocates analyses of personality, realistic portrayal of society Praised Japans tradition of the novel: Tale of Genji, Saikaku Genbun itchi movement: unification of the written and spoken word, use of colloquial language Japans 1 st modern novel: Futabatei Shimei Ukigumo Floating Clouds 1887 Characteristics the Japanese novel: Plot: Loose, episodicserialization in literary journals Characterization: Less defined charactersobscure outlining of the self Narrative perspective: predominance of the speakers point of view The rise I-novel shish ō setsu as a dominant form writing/reading

10 Natsume S ō seki (1867-1916) Born in 1867, large family, failed adoption Entered Tokyo Imperial University in 1884: studies architecture, shifts to English literature Met Masaoka Shiki in 1887, tutored in Haiku Entered graduate school: English Literature Department in 1890 Became an English teacher in the provinces: Matsuyama, Kumamoto Sent to England to study English literature in 1901-03

11 S ō seki: Literary Career Early publications of haiku in the literary journal Hototogisu I am a Cat Wagahai wa Neko de aru (1905) Satirical account of Meiji society from the perspective of a Cat Kushami Sensei: individualism Little Master Botchan 1906 Comedic first person account of a young teacher in a provincial high school Botchan: optimism, innocence Grass Pillow Kusamakura 1906 A plotless, eventless haiku sh ō setsu

12 Later Novels Abandons his University post in 1907 for a position at Asahi Shinbun, becomes professional writer Trilogy: Sanshiro (1908), And Then ( Sore kara, 1909), The Gate ( Mon, 1910). Relation and conflict between Western and Japanese culture Characters caught in between tradition and modernity The Gate : S ō suke visits Zen monastery: gate is closed, fails to solve koan Until the Equinox (1912), The Wanderer (1913), Kokoro (1914) More experimental: alternating narrative perspective, lack of narrative omniscience Central themes: modern mans isolation and alienation, egoism The Wanderer : Keine Brucke fuhrt von Mensch zu Mensch (There is no bridge leading from one man to another) Grass on the Wayside ( Michikus a, 1915): I-novel Light and Darkness ( Meian, 1916): alternating narrative voices

13 S ō seki and Individualism Watakushi no Kojinshugi My Individualism 1914 Part One: describes his discovery in England: my only hope for salvation lay in fashioning for myself a conception of what literature is, working from the ground up and relying on nothing but my own efforts. Critical of imitation, authority of the West Part Two: Ethical Individualism Critical of unrestrained self-assertion and cliquism Development of individuality entails respect of the individuality of othersliberty/duty Loneliness of individualism: misses the comfort of allies We who are born into this age of freedom and independence and the self must undergo loneliness. Its the price we have to pay for these times of ours. (30)

14 Questions for Kokoro What do make of the title Kokoro ? heart/mind heart of things What do you make of the relationships of the novel? Relationships: I-Sensei, Sensei-K, father-I, Sensei-Shizu What makes Kokoro a Japanese novel? A modern novel? Do you find any parallels with earlier literature? What do you make of the suicides of the novel? General Nogi, K, Sensei What role does Buddhism play in the Novel? Ideas of karma, rebirth, attachment, non-self

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