Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Major Literary Disputes (Bungaku Ronsō)

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,


Josh Slander said...

Imagine how high you could get if you rolled up a pure novel and smoked it?

Cresti Threshold said...


Is that you? You don't talk like that, though. Are you both you and not you (In Chinese, 自非自)?

Cresti Yerfi said...


Is that you? You don't talk like that, though. Are you both you and not you (In Chinese, 己非己)?

Baby Police's Father said...

You you you
Who is you?

Whaddayamean Dean said...

What do you mean? What do you mean? I don't get it! I don't get it! Who is this Lander everyone keeps talking about?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Jill said...

I love your blog Ryan...even if half of it is over my head. I added a link to it from my little site. I especially appreciate your imitation of Glenn Gould. I request more. Did you hear that I'll be meeting Cresti, Jarvis32 and Josh in Nashville for the marathon? Will be nice to meet the rugrat. Hope to see you again someday, friend.

Samuel Loutspo said...

Was this just a long-winded round-about way of promoting that website at the bottom? or did someone really send you that? and can i start calling you "beholdmyswarthyface" whenever i talk to you? i like lots of syllables.

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

No. It was a letter from Mable Calahan, Dubliner, as stated.
Don't ever doubt the veracity of beholdmyswarthyface's claims. Ever.