Modernist Fiction from Japan

Remarkably little has been written on the subject of modernism in Japanese fiction. Until now there has been neither a comprehensive survey of Japanese modernist fiction nor an anthology of translations to provide a systematic introduction. Only recently have the terms “modernism” and “modernist” become part of the standard discourse in English on modern Japanese literature and doubts concerning their authenticity vis-a-vis Western European modernism remain. This anomaly is especially ironic in view of the decidedly modan prose crafted by such well-known Japanese writers as Kawabata Yasunari, Nagai Kafu, and Tanizaki Jun’ichiro­. By contrast, scholars in the visual and fine arts, architecture, and poetry readily embraced modanizumu as a key concept for describing and analyzing Japanese culture in the 1920s and 1930s.

Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913–1938, compiled and edited by William J. Tyler, addresses this discrepancy by presenting in translation for the first time a collection of twenty-five stories and novellas representative of Japanese authors who worked in the modernist idiom from 1913 to 1938.

“Be prepared to rethink the nature of modern Japanese literature; or better still, simply read these often wondrous tales, some tall, some short, one after the other, and enjoy a remarkable, liberating moment in Japanese literary history.” —J. Thomas Rimer, professor emeritus of Japanese literature, University of Pittsburgh

January 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3242-1 / $47.00 (CLOTH)