Tag: Meiji era literature

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 8

A Japanese character (kanji) compound, ‘mede’ (目出: “eye” + “go out”) is the basis for the expression, ‘good natured’ in Mushanokoji’s translated title Omedetaki-hito. The compound appears in the common congratulatory phrase, ‘omedetou gozaimasu’, as in, for example, ‘tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu’ (Many happy returns of the day!) However, […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 7

The restoration of the emperor in 1868 heralded a period of stupendous change, during which Japan was transformed from an isolated assemblage of feudal fiefdoms under threat of colonization by the West, into a powerful modern nation. The Meiji Restoration commenced with a coup executed by a group […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 6

It is tongue-in-cheek, and with a measure of self-deprecation, that Jibun compares himself and Tsuru to Dante and Beatrice. At the same time, Mushanokoji subtly acknowledges Dante as a model. Like Jibun, Dante enjoyed only the most scant face-to-face encounters with his beloved Beatrice. In the Vita Nuova, […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 5

The Meiji era (1868 – 1912) gave rise to a variety of sexual attitudes relating to the importation of Western ideas and mores. Some Japanese leaders who travelled to western countries found a model for expression in European dandies, emulating their lifestyles and manners. Others derided these foreign […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 4

Jibun’s moralism, individualism and egocentrism are traits that Mushanokoji celebrates as ideal qualities. He drew his philosophy initially from Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), whose humanism widely influenced young Japanese writers and intellectuals early in the twentieth century. For a time, Mushanokoji adopted the self-sacrificing Count Tolstoy as […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 2

The wave recalls Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, but this print is by another famous ukiyoe artist. Here Hiroshige depicts a Japanese crane, the “bird of happiness,” symbol also of good luck, long life, and fidelity. Mushanokoji uses the Japanese word for crane—tsuru—as the name of his “ideal […]

Mushanokoji’s Good Natured Man 1

Saneatsu Mushanokoji (1885-1976) was one of the first great Japanese modernist writers. He is acknowledged to have founded the I-novel (shishosetsu), a specifically Japanese confessional genre in which the author speaks directly and colloquially to the reader (e.g., Lippit 28). Mushanokoji was also a painter of still lifes, […]