The Dilemma of Faith in Modern Japanese Literature: Metaphors of Christianity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Dilemma of Faith in Modern Japanese Literature

Metaphors of Christianity, 1st Edition

By Massimiliano Tomasi


204 pages

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The first book-length study to explore the links between Christianity and modern Japanese literature, this book analyses the process of conversion of nine canonical authors, unveiling the influence that Christianity had on their self-construction, their oeuvre and, ultimately, the trajectory of modern Japanese literature.

Building significantly on previous research, which has treated the intersections of Christianity with the Japanese literary world in only a cursory fashion, this book emphasizes the need to make a clear distinction between the different roles played by Catholicism and Protestantism. In particular, it argues that most Meiji and Taishō intellectuals were exposed to an exclusively Protestant and mainly Calvinist derivation of Christianity and so it is against this worldview that the connections between the two ought to be assessed. Examining the work of authors such as Kitamura Tōkoku, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke and Nagayo Yoshirō, this book also contextualises the spread of Christianity in Japan and challenges the notion that Christian thought was in conflict with mainstream literary schools. As such, this book explains how the dualities experienced by many modern writers were in fact the manifestation of manifold developments which placed Christianity at the center, rather than at the periphery, of their process of self-construction.

The Dilemma of Faith in Modern Japanese Literature will be of great interest to students and scholars of Japanese modern literature, as well as those interested in Religious Studies and Japanese Studies more generally.

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction

1. Christianity and Modern Japanese Literature

Part II Narratives of Conversion

2. Kitamura Tōkoku and the Celebration of the "Inner Life"

3. Shimazaki Tōson and the Discovery of the Self

4. Kunikida Doppo: The Rejection of Self-Deception and the Paradox of Contrition

5. Masamune Hakuchō: The Fear of Death and the Cruelty of the Christian God

6. Arishima Takeo: The Problem of Sin and of the Inevitability of Fate

7. The Salvific Discourse of Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

Part III Metaphors of Christianity

8. A Christology of the Self: The Case of Mushanokōji Saneatsu

9. The Appropriation of Christianity in Narrative: Kinoshita Naoe’s Hi no hashira and Nagayo Yoshirō’s Seidō no kirisuto Epilogue


About the Author

Massimiliano Tomasi is Professor of Japanese and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Western Washington University. His publications include Rhetoric in Modern Japan: Western Influences on the Development of Narrative and Oratorical Style (2004).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies