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The Showa anthology : modern Japanese short stories /

Other Authors: Gessel, Van C., Matsumoto, Tomone.
Format: Book
Language: English
Japanese
Published: Tokyo ; New York : Kodansha International Ltd., 1985
Edition: 1st ed.
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Review by Choice Review

The prose produced during the Showa age, which is the name of the reign period of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, is diverse and vigorous, as exemplified by the 25 stories included in this anthology. Newly translated works of authors already well known in the West are introduced here as are stories by writers of high reputation in Japan but never translated into English before. Each story is preceded by an informative synopsis of the author's life and work. The subjects and styles reflected in this sampling of short prose fiction are wide ranging. A touching story written by Ibuse in 1929 tells of the dislocation of a rustic, elderly man from his home caused by the building of a dam and flooding of a valley. Kajii's ``Mating'' is a strangely poignant tale of the mating ritual of frogs. The tension of life on the home front during WW II is depicted in Yasuoka's ``Bad Company,'' and Kojima's ``Stars'' represents the humiliation of a Japanese-American fighting in the Japanese Army. Kurahashi's ``The Monastery'' and Kawabata's ``One Arm'' are shocking, surrealistic, erotic fantasies. Oe Kenzaburo investigates in ``The Clever Rain Tree'' the precarious, contemporary East-West cultural confrontation in a Hawaiian setting. With the exception of Edward Seidensticker, the translators whose work is represented in this anthology are in the early stages of their careers, but they demonstrate much of the skill and enthusiasm for translation that characterize the generation of Japanese literary scholars typified by Seidensticker. This anthology can be read with great pleasure by the general reader, is suitable for a textbook for courses in modern Japanese literature, and would be a useful library acquisition for undergraduates.-R.G. Sewell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

These 25 stories, translated by almost as many scholars, mostly of the younger generation, and billed as the first collection of its kind to appear in over eight years, demonstrate not only that short fiction in Japan is alive and well but that it has adapted to the winds of changenotably in the form of war, foreign literary influence and high-techby cultivating its roots in tradition. Some of the writers represented are well known in the Westfor example, Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata, Osamu Dazai, a literary legend in Japan since his suicide in 1948, Kobo Abe (``scientific rationalist'') and Shusako Endo (``the Japanese Graham Greene'')but most are little known outside Japan or hitherto untranslated; among them six women, one the daughter of Dazai, another described as having perhaps ``the most fertile literary imagination in Japan today.'' There's a striking diversity of moods and modes, the narratives being variously lyric, comic, tragic, satiric, fantastic and experimental. Some are gemlike exercises in the famous ``I-novel'' tradition; in others, strains of Stendhal, Sartre or Kafka mingle with indigenous traditions going back to the 10th century. All the stories shine, and each is a telling vignette of the human condition. January (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Showa is the reign-name of the present emperor of Japan, and these 25 short stories are by writers representing the Showa period in Japan. Some, such as Dazai Osamu, Kawabata Yasunari, and Endo Shusaku, are already well represented in English translations with their novels, but others of the writers appear in English for the first time. The range of style is quite broad, from the natural and biographical to the surrealist and fantastic. There are short notes on the 21 translators and a ``Selected Bibliography of English Translations,'' which supplements and updates Modern Japanese Literature in Translation: a bibliography , edited by Yukio Fujino (Kodansha, 1979). A very welcome addition to the stock of Japanese literature. Donald J. Pearce, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Duluth (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.