With choice selections from the core anthologies The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868-1945, and The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From 1945 to the Present, this abridgement offers a concise yet remarkably rich introduction to the fiction, poetry, drama, and essays that reflect Japan's modern encounter with the West. Spanning a period of exceptional invention and transition, the volume forms a critical companion not only for courses in Japan's literary and intellectual development, but also for scholarship on its history, culture, and interactions with global actors, both east and west.
Selections in the first half explicitly convey the three major styles of literary expression that informed Japanese writing and performance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: classical Japanese fiction and drama, Chinese poetry, and Western literary representation and cultural critique. Their juxtaposition brilliantly conveys the social, intellectual, and political challenges that shaped Japan during this period, particularly the rise of nationalism, the complex interaction between traditional and modern forces, and the encroachment of Western ideas and writing. Selections in the second half capture the changes that have been transforming Japan since the end of the Pacific War, such as the heady transition from poverty to prosperity, the friction between conflicting ideologies and political beliefs, and the growing influence of popular culture on the country's artistic and intellectual traditions. Featuring careful translations of works by such writers as Nagai Kafu, Natsume Soseki, Oe Kenzaburo, Kawabata Yasunari, and Mishima Yukio, this anthology fully comprehends the currents of a dynamic modernization.