Title: A Definition of “Rekishi Shōsetsu” Through Ōoka Shōhei’s Criticism of Mori Ōgai’s “Sakai Jiken”
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Kin Pong James Au, Tokyo University, Japan
In this study, I reconsider the genre of "rekishi shōsetsu" in modern Japanese literature, particularly in the 1960s. I focus on the problem of translating the Japanese genre into "historical fiction". Rekishi shōsetsu emphasizes more often than not the narrative - the art of telling - because the narrator in the works belonging to the Japanese genre often claims that he refers to historical documents and various kinds of evidence, a method of which looks like that of a historical scholar. In contrast, in the Western tradition historical fictions such as "Waverley" (1814) and "Gone with the Wind" (1914) offer a panoramic view and thus are plot-oriented and the focus is not on the art of telling through a narrator. I thus attempt to work out a definition of "rekishi shōsetsu" and discuss how the boundary between history and fiction can be set through Ōoka Shōhei's criticism in the 1950s and 1960s of Mori Ōgai's literary work "Sakai Jiken" (1914). Through this study, I attempt to clarify the term "rekishi shōsetsu" and explain how its value can be assessed in both disciplines of history and literature.
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