Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/7/30
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". . . thoughtful and careful. . . . [A]n . . . excellent work of scholarship which pulls together analytical strands from print culture and literature and offers a meaningful contribution to English-language scholarship. I heartily recommend it." - Andrew Kamei-Dyche, SHARP News
"Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature provides a compelling sociological critique of the institution of literature in early twentieth-century Japan. . . . The problems Mack deals with in Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature remain urgent concerns today, and his compelling study gives us some of the tools we need to grapple with them effectively."--Michael K. Bourdaghs "Journal of Japanese Studies "
"This book is a must read book for people who are studying about Japanese literature or people interested to know more about the birth of the modern Japanese publishing industry. The author researched the subject thoroughly and gives us deep understanding of how the Japanese modern literature was born. . . . [I]t is very enjoyable to read. Even each footnote is packed with insightful details that give more vivid picture of the 'manufacturing' process of modern literature. It is an excellent and unique English language resource for an important period of Japan's literature history."--Naoko Maeda Rodolitz "Publishing Research Quarterly "
"Edward Mack pulls the Japanese literary field out of the regressive myth of autonomous art and into the realms of social discourse and material practice. He compels us to reconsider the role of literary production and publishing in constructing concepts of cultural authority, national identity, and empire. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature is a rich, rewarding work."--Ann Sherif, author of Japan's Cold War: Media, Literature, and the Law
"Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature contributes to deepening our knowledge and understanding of modern Japanese literature in two equally significant ways: on the one hand, it provides a wonderfully detailed study of two of the most powerful mechanisms for ascribing literary value in modern Japan; more generally, it reminds us that behind the discursive superstructure we call 'modern' 'Japanese' 'literature' there is a material base that needs to be studied, if we are to arrive at a historically-sound understanding of these concepts."--Gian-Piero Persiani"East Asian Publishing and Society" (01/01/2013)
Edward Mack is Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Washington.
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Although many factors influenced the shift in the general public's perception of literature's value, one cause had a disproportionate influence: the publication, between 1926 and 1931, of the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature (gendai nihon bungaku zenshû). The series marked a watershed in the production, reception, dissemination, and preservation of modern Japanese literature. Thanks to its reasonably low price--only one yen per volume--, the series reached a much wider audience than the traditional readership of modern literary texts, clustered around Tokyo's literary circles and coterie magazines. For many readers, the series was the first access they had to actual literary texts assembled systematically into a cultural entity known as modern Japaness literature. In many ways, the series created and defined the very entity it purported to describe. The anthology brought Japanese modern literature to the home of ordinary Japanese: it became a familiar presence, and the bookcase offered to customers who completed the entire series was used as a decorative piece of furniture in many living rooms.
Maruyama Masao describes the impact that the publication of this series, as well as other "one-yen book" anthologies, had on young students of his generation: "Whenever the latest volume of the series arrived, everyone was talking about it, even during recess at school (...) That might have been the case only because it was a middle school in a large city. Still, it was the case for everyone--not just students--that, whether you had read them or not, you had to at least know the names of famous Japanese and world authors and their works." Many writers from the early Shôwa period confessed the central role the collection played in their early literary education. One publishing historian wrote: "literary anthologies were the fundamental materials through which world and national literatures--centered on the novel--were systematically absorbed in Japan." As an example, Victor Hugo's Les Miserables was published in the first volumes of the Anthology of World Literature, and became widely known through the translation by Toyoshima Yoshio under the title "aa mujô" (Ah, No Mercy).
Advertising was central to this commercial enterprise. In addition to posters, leaflets and banners, the publisher sponsored nationwide lecture tours in which prominent writers were mobilized. Akutagawa Ryûnosuke was quoted as complaining that he "had been made to stand before the audiences in place of a billboard." The exhaustion from his tour may well have hastened his mental and emotional collapse that led him to commit suicide in 1925. Akutagawa's reputation, bolstered by his inclusion in the anthology, was strengthened further when a critic established in 1935 the Akutagawa Prize in recognition of a major work of literature published during the year by a Japanese novelist.
The promoters of the series were also interested in the "noise" (zawameki) of the period, not just by a narrow band of highly polished literary productions. Their anthology included minor genres such as juvenile literature or travel essays, as well as texts not usually classified as literature, such as newspaper columns or "domestic fiction". But by the finite nature of the list of published authors, the anthology created a "static canon", a closed shop of consecrated authors and works. The act of creating such a series demanded a ranking of writers, a banzuke as in a sumo tournament, even when the head editors were consciously trying to create as inclusive a collection as possible. Minor authors were consecrated, and prominent ones were left out. The choice of published material often had more to do with the ease of negotiating copyright or other extraliterary factors than the simple consideration of their literary value. Even when literary considerations came into play, they were more often inspired by whim and fashion, or by personal likings and dislikes, than by objective factors and rational arguments.
The influence of the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature was not limited to the Japanese territory. Immigrants to Brazil or to the US took the volumes with them so as to keep a connexion with the homeland's national culture. The one-yen book series also sold well in the colonies and in the territories under Japanese influence. Uchiyama Shoten, a Japanese bookstore in Shanghai that opened in 1920, was a popular spot not only for Japanese expatriates but also for Chinese intellectuals such as Lu Xun, who had lived in Japan as a foreign student before becoming a figure of the May Fourth Movement. The poet Kaneko Mitsuharu, who lived in Shanghai in 1928 before moving to France, wrote that Uchiyama Shoten was the "teat from which Chinese received their intellectual nourishment." In Korea, even before the Japanese imposed a strict policy of forced assimilation, some Korean intellectuals were drawn to the model of expression offered by modern Japanese literature, and chose to write in Japanese instead of in their national language.
The history of Japan's most popular prewar anthology forms only one chapter of Edward Mack's Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature. Other chapters include the consequences of Tokyo's 1923 earthquake over the publishing industry; the literary debates by which Tokyo intellectuals struggled to define the nature of literary value; the creation of the Akutagawa Prize for pure literature and the Naoki Prize for mass literature; and theoretical discussions on the history and sociology of literature. Edward Mack's basic idea is that "the ascriptions of value that attend works are neither natural nor inevitable because they do not emanate in any simple way from the texts themselves." In the anthologies, in the Akutagawa Prize selection process, or in the literary debates about the "I-novel" as a specifically Japanese form of literature, a variety of both literary and extraliterary factors were at play in deciding which works would enjoy consecration and which would not. A few individuals, such as the critic Kikuchi Kan, possessed a disproportionate amount of influence on the course of literary production. Of particular importance in the formation of literary value was the rhetorical opposition between "tsûzoku"(vulgar, mundane) novels and "junbungaku" or pure literature. What was considered pure or vulgar changed over time and was a matter of personal appreciation, but the binary opposition structured the forces at play in the literary field.
Although reading this book does not require previous knowledge of modern Japanese literature or of literary theory, it is an extremely rewarding experience on both counts. The text begins with the most mundane--the material conditions of literary production such as printing presses, movable fonts, paper sheets--and ends with the most speculative--deconstructing the categories of "modern," of "Japanese," and of "literature". Prominent figures of Japanese literature are featured, such as Akutagawa Ryûnosuke or Kawabata Yasunari, along with minor authors and critics. Mack exhibits a mastery of Japanese texts and of epistemological tools that is rarely found with such balance in a Western scholar. The author borrows from Pierre Bourdieu the notions of symbolic capital (resources stemming from talent, prestige, or recognition) and of the literary field (defined as "the constellation of competitive relationships among literary producers and consumers who struggle for various forms of capital"). Mack draws inspiration from cultural studies and post-colonialism by questioning the link between literature and the nation-state, and by placing Taishô democracy in the context of the Japanese empire. He avoids the trap--conspicuous in the writings of Harry Harootunian, the editor of the series in which this book is published--of pure speculation that loses sight of empirical material. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature opens avenues for future research--some suggested, some implicit--, and should be read by all readers interested by Japanese literature or by literary criticism.