Japanese literature after Sartre: Noma Hiroshi, Ōe Kenzaburō, and Mishima Yukio
This dissertation is an exploration of postwar Japanese literature written in the wake of Sartre's fiction as it was introduced in Japan. I focus on the work of Noma Hiroshi, Oe Kenzaburo, and Mishima Yukio. The postwar years were a time when these writers in particular, and much Japanese fiction in general, actively engaged existentialist issues. I want to detail the encounter of these writers with existentialism because the understanding of existentialism in Japan reflects certain significant "native" responses and concerns to the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, the existentialist writer most consistently invoked in the years after the war. This study is, then, a literary study pursuing the themes from Sartre's fiction that were emphasized in those years in Japan.Sartre was first encountered in Japan as a writer of fiction, and a writer of erotic literature at that. He was grouped with those interested in nikutai bungaku, the literature of the body. Japanese writers were drawn to him because he seemed to highlight and provide solutions to issues of concern to them. In particular, his concerns correlated to the issues of the body and the role of that body vis-a-vis other bodies, responsibility, and action. The war had thrown all of these issues into sharp relief.I have chosen to focus on Noma, Oe, and Mishima because these writers represent the interaction of three different generations of writers with the existentialist issues of the body and of the Self and Other. Tracing this interaction yields, in this dissertation, an intellectual history, of sorts, of the postwar years, while an application of this reading strategy enriches our understandings of the fiction.
- East Asian studies