This just in from Dubliner Mabel Callahan:
Hello, Beholdmyswarthyface. I’ve got a little problem, and I was hoping you could help.
My problem is I can never keep track of all those pesky “literary disputes” (bungaku ronsō), which are such an important feature of modern Japanese criticism. There’s the debate on politics versus literature (seiji to bungaku ronsō), the debate over subjectivity (shutaisei ronsō), the "novel without plot" debate between Tanizaki and Akutagawa, the famous debate on National Literature (kokumin bungaku ronsō), the debate concerning the “I-novel” (watakushi-shōsetsu), another on the “pure novel” (junsui shōsetsu ronsō), the 1891 “idealism debate” between German-influenced novelist Mori Ōgai and Shakespeare scholar and translator Tsubouchi Shōyō on the purpose of literature (botsuri ronsō), and many others I can’t recall at the moment.
How and when they started, who was involved, what literary magazine hosted the debates, how they ended (one ended, I think, in a suicide)— all these details get jumbled in the messy secretary-less office that is my brain. Please, Beholdmyswarthyface, tell me what to do. I’m at my wit’s end.
Well, first you might want to hire a secretary. Second, it’d be nice if somebody would put together a book in English that covers all of the major bungaku ronsō. I’m sure it would be a best-seller, at least among Orientialists like us. Until then, however, we’ll have to use this handy site, which gives a summary in Japanese of all the major debates.
Hope this helps,