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Yokomitsu Riichi: Modernist
by Dennis Keene
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Yokomitsu Riichi occupied a central position in the Japanese literary world during the 1920's and 1930's. He is perhaps the most important counterpart in modern Japanese prose literature to the "modernist" writers at work in Europe during and following World War I. His experimental works of the mid-1920's are a fascinating, self-conscious attempt to introduce the modernism of Europe to what was, by any standards, an alien tradition. These experimental writings are perhaps the most striking example in Japanese literature of what "European influence" can be.
Dennis Keene's study, Yokomitsu Riichi: Modernist concerntrates on these early modernist works. Although he attends fully to Yokomitsu's works as worthy objects of study in themselves, Keene's real subject is the ways in which pme literature can affect another. "For modern Japanese literature, and for modern Japanese society as a whole, the overwhelming fact is the presence of the West." In this context Yokomitsu himself emerges as one of the most significant agents of this presence.
In demonstrating how Yokomitsu and other writers of the early twentieth century created a new form of Japanese literature, Keene provides not only a significant study in comparative literature, but a paradigm of cross-cultural relations between Japan and the West.
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