Literary Process in Early Meiji Japan: Tendencies, Milestones and Accomplishments

Conférence de Yuliya Osadcha Ferreira (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; Kyiv) dans le cadre du séminaire collectif du Centre Japon le 2 février 2017.

The establishment of a modern literary discourse in Meiji Japan required the creation of new and fundamentally different prose from the entertaining and didactic gesaku (戯作) of the Edo period or classical medieval literature of the Heian period. For creating this new kind of prose, Japanese literati needed to put in place new tools to recast and develop the modern Japanese literature.

First, they had to create a clear new literary language through which writers would be able to convey to their ideas to reader of all social strata regardless of their level of education. Second, they were led to “re-invent” the fiction into a specific genre of shōsetsu (小説), along with a canon and content. Third, they also had to work on changing traditional view of fiction-writing from the frivolous pursuit belonging to the entertainment world into a professional activity of social import, with its own high-minded milieu of writers and literary critics.

This reconfiguration of literary production took place at a time of deep social upheaval in Japan and with eyes fixed on modern European poetics, which – in its great variety – was difficult for Japanese authors to grapple with. For the success in the creation of new and original texts, Japanese writers were indebted to their experience of European authors’ translations.

This talk will revisit the social history of Meiji literature, from the 1868 Restoration to the mid 80s. It will show how the formation of a new literary and critical discourse in Japan have been the fruit of not only processes internal to the literary world but was in many ways shaped by extra-literary phenomena such projects undertaken under the banner of  “civilization and enlightenment” (文明開化), the movement for the unification of the spoken and written language (言文一致運動), and educational reforms, the development of journalism and the emergence of the professional literary milieu (文壇).

Jeudi 2 février 2017 de 11h00 à 13h00
EHESS, Salle 7, 105 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris



Citer ce billet
Yasuko D'Hulst (2017, 30 janvier). Literary Process in Early Meiji Japan: Tendencies, Milestones and Accomplishments. Carnets du Centre Japon. Consulté le 14 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Yasuko D'Hulst

Ingénieure d'études, Chargée de valorisation scientifique

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Yasuko D'Hulst

Ingénieure d'études, Chargée de valorisation scientifique

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