The Similitude of Blossoms: A Critical Biography of Izumi Koyka (1873-1939), Japanese Novelist and Playwright (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

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9780674808164: The Similitude of Blossoms: A Critical Biography of Izumi Koyka (1873-1939), Japanese Novelist and Playwright (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Izumi Kyoka (1872-1939) wrote some 300 stories, plays, and essays. In the first book-length study in English of Kyoka, Charles Shiro Inouye argues that his writings were a refinement of a vision that came into focus around 1900. This narrative archetype formed the aesthetic and ethical bases of his work. Kyoka does not fit the conventional story of Japanese literary modernization. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he did not jettison the Japanese literary tradition in favor of modernist imports from the West. The highly visual mode of figuration that was Kyoka's compromise with the demands of literary modernism allows us to see the continuation of Edo culture in the Japanese modern and expand our understanding of literary reform in the early twentieth century.

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About the Author:

Charles Shiro Inouye is Associate Professor of Japanese at Tufts University.

Review:

Izumi Kyoka is without a doubt one of modern Japan's great writers. Acknowledging that Kyoka 'does not fit as neatly as [other writers] into the conventional story of Japan's modernization,' Inouye rightly argues that readers are 'better off searching for an alternative story in which he fits more naturally.' That story includes a strong reaction against the prevailing current of literary naturalism (which Kyoka saw as mired in mundane realism and confessional autobiography) and an obsession with the fantastic and the otherworldly. Inouye underscores the qualities that marked Kyoka's writing as unique from early on, in particular its single-minded preoccupation with a nurturing yet threatening female archetype (rooted in Kyoka's loss of his mother at age ten)...All [readers] will gain from his expert description of Kyoka's literary milieu. (E. Fowler Choice)

One of the many rewards of The Similitude of Blossoms, Charles Inouye's study of Kyoka's life and work, is an appreciation of the ways in which Kyoka's often puzzling fiction influenced writers who came to "dominate the world of letters in a way Kyoka himself never did."...Inouye provides a masterful account of Kyoka's role in helping to shape the Japanese modern...Inouye's description of Kyoka's relationship with his mentor Ozaki Koyo and his circle...is one of the best accounts of the Meiji literary master-disciple relationship to have appeared in English...Inouye's accomplishment is enormous...The Similitude of Blossoms is a definitive introduction to a writer who is as essential to our understanding of the modern Japanese tradition as he is difficult to comprehend or classify. (Stephen Snyder Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies)

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