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Akutagawa Ryunosuke and I-Novelists Author(s): Kinya Tsuruta Reviewed work(s): Source: Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 25, No.

1/2 (1970), pp. 13-27 Published by: Sophia University Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/03/2012 07:13
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prolific other more (I892-I927), though Ryuinosuke as translated Akutagawa bookshelves. spaceonWestern may more authors fill and untranslated, somehave havebeenleft works significant Few ofAkutagawa's into times a than few but languages more European intoseveral not beenrendered only English. withthispopustory-islinked he that It might argued theform chose-theshort be to is easiest form transstory the that but translators, itis a myth theshort among larity choice Akutagawa's of form no late.In fact, oneliterary canhavea monopoly traditores. by as the to may ofsubjects havesomething dowith phenomenon,suggested theslightly atld Tales of of W. title sensational ofGlenn Shaw'stranslationsome hisstories, Grotesque in interest foreign to I930). The powerof exoticism stimulate Curious (Hokuseid6, for account the this but never minimized, obviously alonecannot be should literature writers Japanese are becausethere other writer, ofthisparticular translation frequent One outlandish. quicksolufor the readily whowouldmore satisfy demand something wouldbe but writer, this Japanese the Akutagawva bestmodern tion wouldbe todeclare and critics even to makesometranslators literary Japanese many certain provoke to of but part theanswer to answer thequestion, atleast is no There infact clear-cut uneasy. his from contemporaries. apart that of lie must insome thequalities setAkutagawa and society nature from of from havesuffered thesense estrangement family, Fewmen men modern in the 'bond'for is Alienation thecommon as as intensely didAkutagawa. were intellectuals euphorically when youngJapanese of but West, at theturn thecentury in sulking the'post-liberation was Akutagawa already themselves, to trying 'liberate' that the tasted classic ingredients go into his childhood Akutagawa blues'.During early half-hearted his her insanity, death, father's man: ofan themaking estranged hismother's as herself hismother. who spinster appointed love the desertion, smothering ofanintense was factors the way Akutagawa than moresignificant thesebiographical Perhaps revealed conspicuously At level,most dealtwiththisalienation. leaston theconscious withloneliof method coping the Japanese he writing, rejected traditional in hisearlier evaporates that an one's minimizing egotosuch extent itfinally namely ness hostility, and Natsume S6seki histeacher on of Instead working hisego,as entity. intoa much larger

so none to West, hasbeen fully introducedthe OF allthemodern writers Japanese


Monumenta N.ipponica, I-2 xxv,

didinhissokuten (molding kyoshi oneself Heavenandeliminating on selfishness),' Akutagawasetoutto remold world. viewoflife thattheworld sick, the His was was chaotic andinneedofdrastic surgery. outlook responsible a considerable This was to degree for hispungent sense irony, for definite of urge a structure, precision economy styleand of all unparalleled the in Japanese literature preceded that him. If someWesterners found have AkutagaNva it palatable, maybe becausetheyhave discovered, together exoticism, with qualities strikingly similar those short to of stories in theWest.Akutagawa thefirst was thoroughly 'modern' Japanese author thathe in was notenthusiastic aboutthetypically loose,episodic, lyrical intensely and private and the in writing, showed keenest interest well-defined a beginning, form, middle and end-forthepurpose debunking established of the order. voracious A reader, dishe in covered many Western writers rich a source literary of inspiration in form both and subject-matter. Prosper Merimee, Anatole France, OscarWilde,EdgarAllanPoe, to mentionfew, a exerted considerable a influence Akutagawa, heiscredited upon and with introducing Ambrose Bierce Japan. to The purpose thispaperis first contrast of to witha group 'novelists' of Akutagawa whowrote a strongly in vein autobiographical andwhoareoften toreflectuniquely said a Japanese attitude life, then explore aesthetic to and to the principle embodied Akutain works. Thispeculiarly gawa'searlier Japanese autobiographical is calledwatakushiform shosetsu, theI-novel, most or and scholars agreethat started I907 withFuton The it in or naturalist writer Tayama Katai(I87I-I930).2 It dealsinexhaustive kuilt, bytheleading detail with one-sided affair theauthor-hero a young the love of with woman happens who tobe hisstudent. confessional A element strongly flavored autobiographical this work and was thechief reason thecritics' for loud applause theauthor's for 'boldness and sincerity'. kilt thus The became pace-setter theautobiographical that the for prose soon flooded literary the market. It appears thattheterm 'I-novel' was wellestablished theearly in it twenties; was beingusedin I92I by a fewwriters. early I920 Uno Koji criticized strange As as the in trend which incomprehensible called is suddenly 'the hero "I" literary into introduced a novelwithout much of or description hisappearance occupation disposition', or and is In 'theI-hero apparently author the himself'.3 I925, giving whole-hearted his endorsement the to I-novel, Kume Masaowrote essay an entitled towatakushi'Shinky6-sh6setsu or sh6setsu' 'The Psychological Noveland I-novel', which in KumecalledtheI-novel 'the essenceof prosewriting' brandedWar andPeace, and Crime Punishment and and as and Madame stories for Bovary 'great popular novels, fabricated just entertainment'.4

AUTHOR is AssociateProfessor Japaof at neseLanguageand Literature theUniversity ofTorontoin Canada.

1 Q,II'X -t

2 , ,jk 3 Uno K-ji


i 'Amai yo no hanashi' " , e 0)9 o, Chiokoron, no.,9, p. 29. xIx, 4 Kume Masao A i it, SE 'Shinky6-sh6setsu*

, EBs


Ryuinosuke' 'Akutagawa


abouttheI-novel arguments of a triggeredseries heated understandably Kume's essay and are ofargument muchfiner the although points revived, and theyare stilloften withthe parted writers Japanese some with The sophisticated. reluctance which more to havecontinued pursue critics with thepersistence which in I-novel theI950s, and in of of the issue, indicate complexity theproblem fiction Japan. thisparticular by influenced perhaps coinage, (I-novel) watakushi-shbsetsu is an unfortunate The term it First, lackstheGeron it because is misleading twocounts. theGerman Ich-Roman, appears the of number I-novels hero 'I'. manconsistency naming hero In a sizeable in the The himself. is the assumes hero theauthor the in thethird but person, ofcourse reader If or shosetsu novel. the the concerns term important, more probably drawback, second the tradition, majority in Western of a mind work fiction the to suggests thereader's term of expectation a 'novel'. hisevery aesthetic frustrate ofJapanese I-novels novel, with I-novel be compared an autobiographical at least can the Perhaps Japanese with ofthe and theidentification protagonist thewriter. for factuality itsevents of the himexposes the as the In this KumeMasaoqualifies I-novel oneinwhich author regard 'My Tolstoy's He record. rejects not is saysanI-novel art, a mere but most candidly, self ofaCertain and Confessions as short Confession' something ofanI-novel judgesStrindberg's between distinction a HasegawaIzumifinds moreelaborate Foolto be an I-novel.5 as literature He of literature I-novels. conceives autobiographical and autobiographical perspective, within historical a the develops, by a record theprocess which author-hero of out slicesa chunk of the An however, his individual socialpersonality. I-novel, and of from restrictions time, author's at anypointin thetimespan,and is thusfree life relates is of particularly thepast.An autobiographyopento thepast,whilean I-novel it this with future, is true the fails Hasegawa toclarify link Although itself thefuture.6 to the I-novels notoriented thepast.They seemto ignore relationship to thatmany are literain is factor autobiographical and which themost time events, important between incidents perhaps one,and or only a tend around few As I-novels torevolve ture. a result, novel autobiographical in theWest. to be much shorter theaverage than of is surroundings, Ema Michisuke says the I-novel a depiction one's immediate and sincere often but egoistic, more sometimes modest, non-ideological, often 'narrow, is of criticism theform directed against The ultra-sensitive.'7 loudest aboveallartistically critics of in Marxist absence interest society. of thenarrownessitsscopeandtheobvious of writers a produced areunderstandably though goodnumber proletarian disapproving,
&. + A- A+ to 11 kaishaku kansho : T N f K Kokubungaku Ef OJX,S. *to watakushi-sh6setsu' citedas KKK). Aono and Y. Nakano, eds., Gendaibungakuron S XXVII, no. I2, p. 64 (hereafter 7 jI Ma 1. Inagaki "E Tatsuro RaN1 'WaA 5, taikei5 f: * U4i ,r, Tokyo, Kawade, I956, 0-, -C, JA4'0 e o megutte' takushi-sh6setsu III, p. 288. 5 ibid. 0 no to kaishaku kyozai kenkyui Kokubungaku ab? f 'Watakushi- S 6 Hasegawa Izumi *4)1Jl,, 9w E, XI,no. 3, p. 9 (hereafter as breviated KKKK). b 4: )t sh6setsu to jiden bungaku' ;4


Monumenta Nipponica, I-2 xxv,

believes Mimpei, suchcritic, one in of works alongthelines I-novels theI930s. Sugiura intoa full-scale failure grow to thislimited scopewas thebasiccauseoftheI-novel's historically: toward society nonchalance looksat theI-novelists' novel.8 IvanMorris have changes and that important feudalism thefact The latecollapse ofJapanese in resulted a of effort thanas a result popular comefrom aboverather always Japanese less far and wide individual sociallife made and between peculiarly gulf Western in thanpeoplesin mnost interested political and sociallifequestions of feeling traditions gave riseto a widespread Strong authoritarian countries. to and censorship discouraged orresignationoutside problems official indifference of who conditions. Writers wished from any Meijiwriters voicing criticismcurrent on on concentrated their direct personal to present strictly thebasisoffacts life to the that by subjects hadbeentreated Zola tending neglect wider experiences of andother naturalists theWest.9 on which nottotally is dissimilar. The comment theGerman Ich-Roman, One might is less and between heroand theauthor far in theJapanese the form, theIchdistance on but to boasts much a sustaining structure, bothtend dwell theconfined longer Roman indifference wider to the of world emotional aspects theauthor-hero's witha resulting world. in which towait of also had the Significantly, influence feudalism persisted Germany, to the Thereis anintrinsic relationship between a longtime MannandKafka appear. for and of of like like genre decline a political system feudalism thedevelopment a literary political thenovelin the senseof,say,Dickensor Balzac,becauseanyauthoritarian is to and form stifles man's critical spirit consequentlyhostile a literary likethe system the with relationnovel which author in the detachment, dynamic portrays, a gooddealof man.Indeed, Nakamura Mitsuoattributes the and shipbetween protagonist hisfellow in lack critical novels the thatJapanesegeneral this to fact spirit.10 the ofJapanese paucity Iwiththe hostofJapanese critics who denounce EdwardSeidensticker disagrees do social On he great novels because problems. thecontrary, finds they nottreat merely of their the world and of more more writers thiscentury gaze towards inner directing 'is or writes about 'The saysSeidensticker,notwhether nota writer memory. realissue', of but aboutthem.'11 What doesobject he himself members hisfamily, howhewrites or inputting downdetailed I-novelists' ofdiscrimination lack 'facts' aboutthemtois some selves:
10 Nakamura Mitsuo '4 e 96A, 8 Sugiura Mimpei * ij R *, 'Watakushino Nippon 1* shdsetsu c) ifs - , Tokyo, Iwana4V/' sh6setsu',S. Hisamatsu and M. Nishio, eds., kindai mi,I954, pp. I37-8. jiten, Tokyo, Gakus6, I952, Nipponbungaku 11 E. Seidensticker, p. 88i. Gendlai Nippon sakka-ron, 9 I. Morris, ed., 'Introduction', Modern Tokyo,Shinch6, I964, p. 90. Tokyo, Tuttle, I96I, p. i5. Stories, 7apanese

Ryuinosuke' TSURUTA, 'Akutagawa


on abouttheassumption thepartofa writer very Thereis something arrogant trip to be is an thatbecause incident related him, it onlya routine to thebank, fact setting downinprint.12 itis byvirtue that worth of there basedupontheideathat form dangerous ofconceit, also Morris callsit 'a rather life.'13 account one'sinner of is something in interestingan honest intrinsically 'dangerous out if of the It may helpus tounderstand nature I-novels we find howthis art essay cameabout.In hiscontroversial KumeMasaosaysthat is not form conceit' of to He of life of thecreation another buta re-creation one'sownlife. proceeds theconcreates whatever artist an words, is baseofall thearts in'I'. In other clusion thereal that is to a that a faithful a and is anextension himself, so itis bestfor writer produce work of in aboutsomebody or abouthimself the else ofhimself. Whenhe writes representation is distance between work the and evaporates, there a dangerous for truth third person, Just had followers. howdeeply the itsmodel.14 Naiveas itmay loyal sound, theory many in was writers demonstratedI962, thirtyhas Japanese rooted attitude beenamong this whenTakami (I907-65)-voicing thesentiJun Kume'sdeclaration, after sevenyears of stated hedistrusted form prose that writing any of fellow writers-publicly ment many out couldbring thebestin him.15 this because form the except I-novel to school particular in who the Among I-novelists writers belonged theShirakaba the in thatif theysucceeded becoming in faith the'self'.They believed had unshakable in This attitude truth which hidden eachofthem. was they 'themselves', couldrealize to in In in that corresponds truth others. short, belief truth oneself from stemmed their about even involved the writer that writing felt faithfully himself, ifthis a Shirakaba by imvisitto thebank',he couldcommunicate suchas 'his routine mosttrivial things wereconvinced that to Senuma saysthesewriters Shigeki truths his reader. portant which itself truth truth, apportioned to eachinunderneath in oneself theabsolute lay their led to this to daily experiences dividual. According Senuma conviction them pursue ardent with religiosity.16 The is to to one'sfull Thiseagerness realize potential notdifficult understand. history of of eversincetheMeiji 'revolution' i868 was a series world oftheJapanese literary feuthe various names emancipate individual's from to under movements ego romantic ideathat individual an was could movements thebasic of feature these dalism. salient The In overanxiousness free tobe human bonds. their all bestbe liberated cutting possible by with of to relationships andtobe themselves neglected seethepossibility dynamic they and Buddhistic withtheir heritage the psychological other together people.Instead,
12 E. Seidensticker, 'Strangely Shaped Novels', J. Roggendorf,ed., Studiesin 7apanese Culture, Tokyo,Sophia,I963, p. 2I7. 13 I. Morris, Modern Stories, i6. p. Yapanese 14 Kume,op. cit. p. 289. 15 Takami Jun ri )'IA, 'Watakushi-sh6setsu

0) *t f o 4 no honshitsuto mondaiten' A rvl KKK, XXVII, no. I4, p. 6i. 16 Senuma Shigeki Wigit*, 'WatakushiJA'1A f :A sh6setsu to shinkyo-sh6setsu' ,J'f, KKKK, Xi, no. 3, p. I7.


XXV, I-2


Monumenta Nipponica, I-2 xxv,

of of and complexity human freedom thestifling ritualistic from ascetic tradition seeking This on ego-realization isolation. in beganto concentrate relationships, writers these at with to preoccupation whatseems be a pursuit explains leastin parttheI-novelists' life. oftrivialities their in daily which figures theNaturalist in school, In this add the regard might that important one is commonly begantheir I-novels, responsible theprototype for agreedto be chiefly conspicuously present theI-novel, in quality tanka, of careers tanka as poets.The lyrical ofJapanese if with is characteristic romanticism which preoccupied thelimited, conis of in began loseitsvitality modern to world anindividual's emotions. tanka As centrated, was to form to turned more more and whose mentality suited thislyrical times, people after whata fewforerunnerstheI-novel had of observing 'novel'-writing, especially the of a whereindynamic human drama done.Thusbysoftening structure thenovel can accommodated the under misleading of'novelist' the a title be bestdeveloped, I-novel of lyrical goodnumber tanka-oriented writers. aboutby thefirst I-novel, The the brought singlechange Perhaps mostimportant effect of in years prior Three uilt, I907, wasitsprofound ontheconcept fiction novels. in Hakai17 TheBroken of or Comto thepublication The tilt, Shimazaki Tosonpublished a all it which attempt Although washisfirst mandment, caused sensation overthecountry. as a a after the he established towrite novel poet, skill displayed gaining reputation a tanka novelist. whenThe waspublished, impact as first the him Japan's realistic However, qilt of was that the element so staggering Shimazaki discarded fictionality ofitsconfessional andtirelessly 'novels'. Commandment ShimaThe Broken many autobiographical produced who writers aredeeply or, zakiis oneofmany impressed factuality perhaps by Japanese awarethat readers general in fiction tendto reject are more Japanese accurately, keenly whatseems be fact. to as something andto accept onlytooeasily false, such teemswithnon-fiction as essaysand diaries which, history Japanese literary stories and are thanfictional withonlya fewexceptions, takenmuchmoreseriously for and about considers Senuma romances. curiosity Shigeki respect factuality a great to to characteristics.18 tendency be inThis one'simmediate surroundingsbeJapanese to of habitat thecurious and reluctance fly withphenomena one'srestricted fatuated as in describe the of have resulted whatone might intotheworld imagination, often stated: Kenonceflatly The critic and of confusion ethics aesthetics. literary Hasegawa a this truth only goodlife produce can I wouldliketoemphasize well-known that goodliterature.19 to writers takeup some'regular Japanese DuringWorldWar II Hasegawaurged of would enhance quality their the At suchanexperience since writing. thesame work',
17 18 %A

op. Senuma, cit. 19 Hasegawa Ken -6)JI,

'Sakka seikatsu

e no hansei' 4} * I ;--0) K , Y. Usui, ed., * o Kindai bungakuronsd 'an'--, Tokyo,

Cliikuma, I956, II, p. I96.

TSURUTA, 'Akutagawa Ryuinosuke'


is assertion notaltogether it nonsense.20 dismissing as abstract Hasegawa's surprising, of white-collar workers into and whatwiththewar-hysteria thenational policy turning but critic Asami hands ammunition instant for factory production, in I966 theliterary basic held about Fukashi voicedwhatwas commonly to be theI-novelists' assumption therelationship between andart: life to it needed 'writer's inorder grasp Universal the the Again, is because they eye' of the However mustbe it Truthoflife from triviality their dailyexperiences. that itself remembered the'writer's can never but eye' develop independently, of ofthe thegrowth the'eye' goeshandin handwiththeself-training writer's ownperson.21 into between and As life merges art,theborderline ethics aesthetics itsclarity. loses one commentKawasaki Ch6taro, perhaps ofthemost representative postwar I-novelists, has of ingon theconfessional aspect novel-writing, thisto say: to the one Writing requires courage exposeto thebroaddaylight things could notpossibly people. tell one or Every ofus hasmore lesssomekindofinfirmity ashamed However, of. an if andthings ismuch he to being I-novelist,heattempted overor to be dishonest them, would to to it them Nvith resort anytricks smooth be a disgrace hispen.22 to

if one a theory one no time rejected he that needs actual experience issufficiently talented,

in a How did this enthusiasm truth-telling 'novel'comeabout? Sei23 for It6 explains that literary in consisted people of whohadnotbeenableto the world theMeijiperiod it. and from Thesepeople refused compromise had function to inJapanese society, hadfled social inherited theprevious which from withmany restrictions age, they thought preand vented them from freedom being tothemselves. true enjoying Many were determined to seekout truth living and a and and by freely, writing publishing true frank account circles suchworks werevaluedandrespected revelations as oftheir lives.In literary of of since life socialruin himself for truth, especially publication a writer's private risked of world 'collective a and themembers hisfamily. callstheJapanese It6 literary body a contest' theatmosphere 'let'ssee wholives in of and ofascetics', their writing 'truth and more truth'. moretruthfully confesses writers stimulated their It is a bitofirony, to explains thatthese Ito, by exposure the tookon a mentality similar thatin the of to Western concept individualism, suddenly whenmany withtheegoistic and of middle Edo periods samurai, disgusted power plays
ibid. i) AsamiFukashi5A A, 'WatakushiXi, no KKKK, no.3, kaishaku hensen', sh6setsu


kushi-shosetsu tsuite', KKK, ni

P. 52. 23 It6

XXVII, n. I4,

p. 12.


KawasakiCh6tar6P1-* lA05,


S; Tg(

Sei 4i *&, Kaitei bungaku nyiumon A , Tokyo, Kobunsha, 1954, pp. -k



Monumenta Nipponica, I-2 xxv,

to ties.In theEdo period, human in by freedom temples forsaking sought thelords, or life not active ofa merchant samurai and life people pure true represented the the many the of writing haiku a where might one enjoy buta subdued awayfrom dirt society, life or two. of and and contest' theliterary diaries a heritage essays, What withthe'truth-telling whichtended stress and to whatis 'genuine' rather than tanka haiku of goodnumber was literary world notparticularly Japanese on and tricks fiction, thewholethemodern of Hiraoka out Toshiopoints thattheMeijiperiod to thenotion fiction. well-disposed of of the era, intotheatmosphere fiction-contempt previous whichregarded stepped as fit be readonlybywomen children.24 to and fiction romances and with to to synonymous This aversion fiction (whichwas considered be practically in on is bestexpressed a comment ShigaNaoyaoftheShirakaba school, by dishonesty) works. Nakamura his Of Seiko's he occasions reviewed contemporaries' oneoftherare 'It is a pleasing work bothin itsstyle and or 'A Granary' (I9I6) Shigasaid, 'Kokus6'25 to no usedalsoaddsa quality thenovel. The work of imparts sense material. dialect The 'Geishani natta he onna'or 'The Iwano's26 thesamereview dismissed In fabrication.' of 'it a WhoBecame Geisha'by saying, reeks fiction.'27 Woman of to seems havemuchto do withtheattitude the of to theconcept fiction Aversion is to with infatuation nature, Their to speaking, inclined make generally Japanese nature. to it as urge of are, them approve things they in contrast a Westerner's to confrontand of Japanese change to and The drastically, things it change to hisliking. reluctance the in are in natural form, bestexpressed an thehighvaluethey placeuponthings their a should made'in imitabe It book instruction on landscaping. saysthat garden ancient in well hills sights known thevarious of exciting 'incorporating tion natural andwater', one one how thatno matter cleverly maycontrive, should states but provinces', flatly exceltheonesin nature.'28 Defendcan manerects never that that remember 'therocks whenhe usesa similar comparison: KumeMasao echoesthissentiment ingI-novels, falls short of an flower toofar how that 'I think nomatter beautifully produced, artificial oneinwildnature.'29 in believed prothatI-novelists add Whatdo all thesethings up to?Do they imply it and of a dailyexperiences calling a novel? representationtheir ducing photographic in the of calledtruth exactduplicate writing hisphysical actions, Is whatan I-novelist and the the between experience therecord and emotions thinking? Actually distance Ithanmany it to was supposed faithfully Japanese which represent is muchgreater
24 Hiraoka Toshio * 1AI A, 'Watakushi- setsuni okeruShirakabaha yakuwari' no }4 ;t O e * 1 0)K KKKK, I -r, t ;; 63 A CD V , KKKK,XI, p. 27. shosetsuno kyok6sei'}A4 28 Okamoto Tar6 1A K13, Nippon denti no -* XI,no. 3, pp. 83-4. 25 pp. Tokyo, Kobunsha, 57, I97. H * 0) e AA, tffl , 29 Kume,op. cit. p. 290. 26 &f 27 K6no Toshio UfctZk 0, 'Watakushi-sho-


'Akutagawa Ryuinosuke'


novelists wouldhaveliked. onething, is impossible an action a given For it that in time andspacebe duplicated elsewhere absolute with fidelity. Obviously I-novelists not were in thinking these theoretical terms, many but wereobsessed withbeing'honest' with themselves. Postwar scholarship turned considerable up evidence, however, conthat tradicts many I-novelists' claims honesty, theterm interpretedmean to if is to that every in incident a 'novel'is basedonanactual happening. instance, For WadaKingo found has that TayamaKataisometimes plots used derived from imagination. fact, his In Tayama is quotedas saying: Ifit werea fact, wouldnotwrite I it aboutit. Because is a work imagination, of oneis stimulated write to it.30 When Tayama'sThe uilt published, was many writers readers and accepted as his it honest confession. this Hiraoka Toshioexplains particular that phenomenon saying by 'thework so much had in it reality it that was mistaken a "fact".'31 for Hiraoka agrees withmany critics The ?uilt an important that was but it the work, notthat established non-fiction tradition I-novels. contends itestablished entirely approach of He that an new to theconcept fiction, allowing reader indulge of by the to himself a 'fact' in while really fiction.32 consuming Tayama's to milieu conof attempt salvage fiction thegeneral from result narrowing scope.Eversince, tempt did,however, in its whether many writers, wereaware it ornot, of haveusedthisstructure disguise to as they fiction fact, exploitingthereader's to as of eagerness accept work a faithful the account theauthor's private life. The I-novel, which lingers in a much conspicuous still on less exerted form, varying of on Izumiincludes degrees influence many MoriOogai.Hasegawa writers, including in hislistofthirty-five representative I-novels by Mori-'Hannichi' 'The Halftwo or Day' (I909) and 'M6so' or 'A WildFancy'(I9uI).33 Kume Masao, whiledismissing first Natsume's novel'Wagahai nekode aru'or'I ama Cat' (I905) as a 'popular wa and Natsume's no entertaining 'Garasudo naka'or'Inside GlassDoor'34 the work', saysthat closeto being an whathe considers I-novel. (I9Is) comes of The impact theI-novel notbypass did awareofthe He Akutagawa. was keenly sincehiscareer-I9I4 to I927-was in themiddle theearlier of trend, phaseofitsdehis when tightly velopment. 'The However, constructed Nose' (I9I6) shotAkutagawa of intotheorbit theJapanese Ito of literary world, peoplewerebeginning tire many novels written naturalists, their by with flair the of peculiar for details thedarker side oflife. The appearance 'The Nose',theantithesis theI-novel every of of in conceivable withthepublic's new way,coincided for vaguedesire something anddifferent.
30 Wada Kingo FEm 'Watakushi-sh6to setsu ni okerush6setsu jisseikatsu'IA'I';iA1r,t 'fY *;-, KKKK, xi, no. 3, p.96. 31 Hiraoka, op. cit. p. 85. 32


33 + 34



Nipponica, I-2 xxv, Monumenta

of merits 'The to referred three Natsume letter Akutagawa, to In his enthusiastic to and terse always the and of humor, novelty itsmaterial, itsstyle, the Nose': itsrefined three attributes, of absence these by is The point.35 I-novel characterized theconspicuous the for and theworknecessary humor, the between author for lacksthedistance it in and environment, thestyle, the limited the is from author's drawn material always and long-winded rambling. is essay, often of tradition theancient to himself playinthenaturalisthe of was Akutagawa quiteconscious therole assigned by stories tossing on thrived his 'fiction' Akutagawa circle. literary oriented I-novel into writers hiscocktailWestern other and France, Bierce, Merimee many Poe,Ambrose in predicted hisletter. as position', Natsume a shaker, didachieve 'rare and of is element a vitalingredient theIa discussed, confessional As we havealready this rejected flatly Akutagawa and frank honest. must and novel, theconfession be bold, law is others notanissueofanyliterary or that byclaiming 'to be honest, nottodeceive as an defined I-novel a 'novel a code(V, 63).' Akutagawa of butsimply question moral matter is awaythewhole with certificate a "thisnovel nota lie,"' andhelaughed saying (V, of withaesthetics 62). This from confusion ethics the out bypointing thatit stems of in aspect creative was doesnotimply Akutagawa notinterested theconfessional that with is to that for writing, there evidence indicate he was intrigued it. his revealedthis interest through unconventional Akutagawa Characteristically, shocked witha bold Japan T6son (I872-I943) Shimazaki confession. attitude toward or with account hisentanglement his niecein Shinsei36 TheNewLife(I9I8), which of for to suicide, 'a planned commit thatShimazaki led actually TayamaKataito believe But invite severe socialsanctions. wouldsurely affair' of confession suchan immoral 'thegreatest (IV, hypocrite' 64). Likewise, of NewLife calledthehero The Akutagawa classic I-novels of hailedas theWestern by Fool ofa Confessions Certain by Strindberg, He his to confession according Akutagawa. explained reaKumeMasao,was notstark of and comparison Rousseau Merimee: in paradoxical soning a typically and of the to for It isimpossible anyperson confess entirety himself itisimpossible was fond conof himself. Rousseau in expressing for himto engage artwithout Merimee fession you will not see Rousseaustarknakedin his Confessions. but its between lines? reveal Merimee but confessions, doesnothisColomba abhorred as is and of the between literature confessions others notso clear The borderline onemight (V, suppose. 76) thathe answer thefrequent to as charge This couldbe taken partofAkutagawa's abouthimself. couldnotconfess frankly in abouthimself hisstories, to refused write that directly It is true simply Akutagawa
3N5 Natsume Soseki zenshii, Tokyo, S6gei-sha,
1954, X, p. 523.
36 #



'Akutagawa Ryiinosuke'


havespeculated towhyhe as his in before suicide I927. Critics a years at leastuntil few it and himself KawazoeKunisue attributes to his'vanity',37 to wasso reluctant expose this to However, himself confided reason him.38 that Sat6 Haruoreports Akutagawa arguethatthis IkutaCh6koand KataokaRy6ichi as suchcritics FukudaTsuneari, whohasgrown in a large citysuchas up ofa person is reticence characteristic sensitive the of naturalists toTokyo came out Theypoint that majority confession-happy Tokyo.39 other Tokyo whymany theory fails explain but to from hills. Thisis an interesting the was thatAkutagawa Fukudasuspects Furthermore, inclined toward I-novels. writers incentive. dispel creative his he too abouthimself candidly, would afraid ifhewrote that affairs ofhisstories to ensure out was The reason kepthispersonal Akutagawa of of He abouttheugliness hisperson guilty thetruth hisownself. had to feel he of in metaphors spun a andhissinsinorder secure ring truth thebeautiful to knowAkutawas should the thing thatnobody out.Furthermore, mostcrucial is the because of by purity allemotions attained prohibiting feeling, gawa'sguilt that would cheaply evaporate of thus Akutagawa feared hisguilt expression them. in the of through process confession hisstories.40 thinks Akutagawa write did aboutandreveal himself.41 that Hirotsu Kazuo,however, the see device and through transparent He simply embroidered himself, wecaneasily him whopoints thatmany his out of Yrz6,42 offiction. is seconded Sayama by This view than and to convincing others, suspects in is tend be inore the stories which hero anartist himself theartist-hero. to transferred Akutagawa that in ofa nature-canbe summarized All thesearguments-admittedly non-aesthetic for confession': own to pressure 'bolder Akutagawa's reaction hiscontemporaries' confession'. life a more aboutyour andmake bolder tell Theyoften me'to write of to are I too makeconfessions; stories confessions myownexperiences a my the write of Whatthey me wantis for to makemyself heroof a novel, degree. and attach me events reservation, furthermore to the actual concerning without of and chart bookan identification ofthenames thecharacters therealpersons. it of such I that havenointention writing a work. Firstly, disagrees Letitbe clear life I me with noendthat exhibit private tothose Secondly, curiosity-seekers. my
37 Kawazoe Kunisue )II f'J 1X1 , Kindai Nippon Tokyo, Waseda, I959, p. 303. bungakuron, 38 Sat6 Haruo, 1IR44 A, 'AkutagawaRyiunosuke o omou', S. Yoshida, ed., Akutagawa p. kenkyi, 247. Ryinosuke 39 Fukuda Tsuneari 4 Eslt i!, 'Akutagawa Dec. tokubon, I954, p. 240, Bungei Ryiunosuke', p. 240; Ikuta Choko I IE - it, 'Akutagawa-shi 4 no seikaku',Tomiuri,Jan.I925; KataokaRy6-

ichi )t 1AI no k-, 'AkutagawaRyuinosuke sakuhin',Kokugo kokubun, I924, p. 8. June 40 Fukuda Tsuneari, Sakkano taido 4' * 0) St , Tokyo, ChuoK6ronsha, p. I38. I947, 41 HirotsuKazuo i,&' 5*;3, 'Akutagawano -Pl uso to shinjitsu' lo e A t, S. Yoshida, ed., Akutagawa Ryiunosuke p. 8i. kenkyu, 42 Sayama Yuzo It di t_ -, Akutagawa Ryuinosuke, Tokyo,Ichigaya, I945, p. 99.


Monumenta Nipponica, I-2 xxv, and Issa43 published like experiences Kobayashi my I that wrote sexual suppose my be would thrilled; critics My kiron. readers of, Chuj itintheNewYearissue say, etc., greatleap forward and my withpraise:Akutagawa's wouldshower me etc. and is 'Akutagawa nownaked truthful,' Just saying wouldbe happy, friends (IV, shivers. I4I-2) ofit givesmebone-chilling thinking Let and into sucha confession profit fame. us to it givesme no pleasure turn

and abouttheauthor, hisstories something reveals said,anywriting As Akutagawa his to for the However, realreason notwanting write own in sense. areconfessionsthat once above.Akutagawa wrote: is expose notgiven we is our ashamed revealing foolishnesswhen are of The onlytime do notfeel we or withsnmall children withdogsor cats.(V, I04) retfor seemsto comemuchcloserto therealreason Akutagawa's This statement or of sensitivity hisfear losing or of the icence than theories hisvanity hismetropolitan he with senseofconfrontation theworld incentive. shows It Akutagawa's hiscreative and and attack demolish butchildren domesticated you, will in. lived The world deride, havebeen would experiences abouthisprivate to will animals not.ForAkutagawa, write world his to To self his toexpose vulnerable toopenattack. reveal weakness thehostile the it art; of wasnota function Akutagawa's on thecontrary was toexpose absurdities, it to to and and,hopefully,bring toitsknees askAkutagawa's injustices eviloftheworld of The uniqueness Akutagawa it for upon forgiveness all theinjuries hadinflicted him. resentment this with he and liesin thethoroughness precision which channeled intense world hisart. of calculated the into meticulously before in a ambivalence someofhiswork discuss curious we Havingsaidthat, must in of tobe found a series stories is This to returning theissueofconfession. ambivalence The IdiotTheme.Theyare'Christophoro' under heading the which maybe grouped Scroll' in (I92I) (I920), 'Salvation Kichisuke'(I919), 'Christ Nanking' (I9I9), 'Juliano who are all idiots of characters thesestories, and 'The Hermit' (I922).44 The central absence of from by are degrees, distinguished his others theconspicuous to varying demonstrated that The interpretation in thesetalesAkutagawa to hostility theworld. withan enfeebled onlyuponpersons happiness of thefolly theworldby bestowing was that but is enough, it is toignore Akutagawa unmistakrational faculty reasonable idiot-heroes. of of ablyenvious theserenity these wrote Akai for is of evidence theambivalence in thetalesAkutagawa Moredramatic a His stories children for present viewoflife children's magazine. a tori,45progressive endorses in for to Akutagawa opposed that hisworks adults:in theformer diametrically while of supernatural, in the things order workaday rejecting reality by theexisting
43 ,I *_t44 -- 9 Ltf11 2,-

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'Akutagawa Ryiinosuke'


latter is preoccupied turning he with reality upside down.As Akutagawa seemed eager toembrace valueofthisworld hischildren's the in stories, somecritics thatit was say onlyin them that Akutagawa dropped defenses revealed realfeelings. is a his and his It tempting theory sounds lessone-sided but no thansaying thatAkutagawa's basicattitude oneofsheer was resentment against immediate his environment. One finds further of proof theambivalence Akutagawa's of attitude theworld to in someofthebestearlier stories, where showed more he a activeinterest re-ordering in reality. Take for instance 'The Nose'.46 Naigu47 greatly is worried abouttheloss of priestly dignity causedby thedisheartening proportions his nose.The poorpriest of works extremely to shrink source hisobsession a more hard the of to respectable size. The irony thestory, typical of in is when he Akutagawa fashion, that Naiguthinks has finally succeeded hisesoteric in orthopedics finds is farther he he removed thanever from crowd so earnestly the he a wantstojoin.The story endswith masterful in scene which Naiguis described being as relieved indeed and contented when nosereturns his to 'normal giantsize',murmuring himself, to 'Now, nobody goingto laughat me is anymore.' The significant aboutthisstory thatin theend,little changed; is has thing Naigu comes backto thestarting point whenhe gains degree happiness a of withhimself and theworld. 'Yam Gruel'48 reveals similar a motif; Goi's lifelong ambition to eat yam is to but gruel hisheart's content, when ismiraculously this realized finds he himself longing to go backto theold state where stillhada dream eating bellyful yamgruel. he of a of To be surethere that is unmistakable ofirony, sense our suddenly betraying heightened at is than expectation theend,but there more Nvorld exflirtation theimmediate with to plicit hostility it. Letus go backto theissueofconfession. calledthehero Toson's of When Akutagawa The NewLifethe'greatest hypocrite',was nottheethical it issuethat irritated but him rather whatseemed himtheextraordinary withwhich his to ease Toson perpetrated so-called confession abouttheloveaffair hisniece. confessionmeant gratify with If is to theneedfor to gain from and absolution self-punishment, subsequent society admirain the of in tionfor courage participating the'truth-telling T6son succeeded contest', hispurpose. This is an act ofgreat faith society thisTosonhad,evenifhe was in and much writer. nota consummate Akutagawa havehadliterary may talent, however but, in irritation he mayhavedesired he did nothaveT6son'sfaith people. it, Akutagawa's a with of and similar that to which T6soncontained mixture contempt envystrikingly in heexpressed hisidiotheroes. us This brings to thequestion, Akutagawa did at makeany'confession' all? Ifwe his on it that is accept statement thesubject, follows allwriting confessional. Obviously thisis notthekindofanswer areseeking we be initiated a here. should Confession by
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Monumenta Nipponica, xxv,


fulfil needofself-punishment result deliverance the of should deepsense shame, and in from shame. was WhenAkutagawa a child, was sickly he and puny,thefavorite target the of neighborhood bullies. notes, His and diary, essays, hisfriends' testimonies witness bear an tothefact henursed acute that of feeling physical inadequacy. Equally important was hisnagging awareness hismother insane that might that died and he haveinherited the seedofhermadness. Whathefeared most thisregard thepossibility becoming in was of differenttheeyesofpeoplein general. he sought signsofhis in extraordinarily As for deviation managed findthem, beganto praisewhathe calledgeniuses, and to he a category deviants which of to Akutagawa persuaded himself hebelonged. that While he was nervously chanting eulogiesto geniuson theone hand,he was busily creating characters borethestamp Akutagawa's of who awareness hisownfreakishness. of Naigu of'The Nose'andEinof'The Dragon'49 suffer noses monstrous from of dimensions, and in is other hisbright nose. Goi5O 'Yam-Gruel' marked among red by, things, of jiikichi is of 'Genkaku Samb6'51 veryashamed hisbody'whichlookedlikea plucked rooster' and theshort teacher 'Mr Mori',saysAkutagawa, of English 'reminds ofa spiderone manin a freak-show.' listis fairly no The long.Obviously I-novelist couldacceptthem as a confession. this wasas far Akutagawa as But wouldgo,for wasnotinterested he in detailofhisphysical mental and relating every to peculiarities; enough spinout only effective and to ambivalence. metaphors consequently create If themostenthusiastic is reader Akutagawa madeuneasy the resolution of by of his someofhisearlier from discord the works, discomfort derive between may Akutadesires: be a part theworld torevenge to of and gawa'stwocontradictory himself upon it.Butthere caseswhere tension are this worked or'The Hell creatively. 'Jigokuhen',52 It Screen' the an (I9I8), marks peakofsuch a powerful about eccentric story who suicideafter his painter, Yoshihide,53 commits havingchosento witness own a in deathby fire order finish commissioned to 'The Hell Screen'. daughter's painting, as and out who fantaYoshihide, is described ugly repulsive, be acting hisauthor's may as are sies; he is heroically egoistic, behaving ifbeyond goodand evil.Two things of to and Confronted the with supreme importance him:painting, hisbeautiful daughter. he art. to between after necessity choose them, chooses His suicide immediately finishing and fulfils twocontradictory needs:self-punishment,punishment the hispainting his of while it. world. ThusYoshihide joinstheworld destroying cast The worktakeson a sinister prophetic whenwe realizethatnineyearslater what hadYoshihide at theendof'The HellScreen'. he do carried exactly out Akutagawa accounts whattheir of authors did I-novels concentrated diary-like on actually in
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Rylinosuke' TSURUTA,'Akutagawa


the out to managed wring of trivialities genuine Onlya fewof them dailylife. their were the by so and of moment poignancy lyricism cherished theJapanese; majority a socialsecrets constitutedliterary their that publishing intothinking merely deluded and existence, were for thereason their questioned Sincetheyscarcely achievement. and senseofshame the their between the secure their in society, relationship basically hide-and-seek. a game than light-hearted of to contest' amounted nomore 'truth-telling he inadequacies, wasoperating and share shame social of had While Akutagawa hisfull At of hedealtwiththealienation an individual. hisbesthe levelwhen deeper at a much that It which seriously he questioned. is true of to wastrying seekthemeaning theworld, the and buthe detected resented confession, was Akutagawa notat easewithso-called more offer something If indulgence. hisbestworks of I-novelists' presumptionsociety's to and surface trivialities tried getto therootof he it than I-novels is because rejected of existence. theabsurdities human than confession was in of The creation Yoshihide 'The Hell Screen' in a waya truer were confessions so noneof their the up dredged from past by I-novelists; anything author's ownfate. the as revealing to foreshadow