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Beauty Matters

Modern Japanese Literature and the Question of Aesthetics, 1890–1930

«Anri Yasuda offers a fresh perspective on the aesthetics of modern Japanese literature. Focusing on major Japanese novelists who delved into questions of beauty at the theoretical, critical, and practical levels, she offers readings of their works featuring visual artists that spur us to gain inspiration from their intellectual, emotional, and sensual engagements with a world that was striated by cultural, political, and social dichotomies that, while not the same, echo our own.»

Indra Levy, Stanford University

The notion of beauty is inherently elusive: aesthetic judgments are at once subjective and felt to be universally valid. In Beauty Matters, Anri Yasuda demonstrates that by exploring the often conflicting yet powerful pull of aesthetic sentiments, major authors of the late Meiji (1868–1912) and Taishō (1912–1926) periods illuminated themes and perspectives that resonated broadly in modern Japanese society. Les mer

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The notion of beauty is inherently elusive: aesthetic judgments are at once subjective and felt to be universally valid. In Beauty Matters, Anri Yasuda demonstrates that by exploring the often conflicting yet powerful pull of aesthetic sentiments, major authors of the late Meiji (1868–1912) and Taishō (1912–1926) periods illuminated themes and perspectives that resonated broadly in modern Japanese society. This approach presents an alternative to conventional accounts in which Japanese literature before the modernist turn of the 1920s has tended to be defined by an insular focus on subjective representation and autobiographical realism.

Yasuda investigates how Natsume Sōseki, Mori Ogai, Mushanokōji Saneatsu and his peers at Shirakaba magazine, and Akutagawa Ryūnosuke sought to identify the aesthetic properties of literature through comparisons with the visual arts. They also considered the position of Japanese cultural sensibilities within the Eurocentric imperial world order. Their stories featuring painters and paintings weigh the fundamental challenge of representing anything when the conditions of knowledge are in flux, and their stories about cross-cultural encounters display both hope and ambivalence about the prospect of cosmopolitanism. Yasuda shows how thinking about beauty and art enabled these authors to surpass purely “literary” concerns. By tracing the wide-reaching significance of aesthetic affect in literary thought, Beauty Matters destabilizes received conceptions of literature’s parameters and affirms literature’s continued potential to intervene in cultural discourses in Japan and beyond.

Detaljer

Forlag
Columbia University Press
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
ISBN
9780231210621
Utgivelsesår
2024
Format
23 x 15 cm

Om forfatteren

Anri Yasuda is an assistant professor of Japanese in the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Virginia.

Anmeldelser

«Anri Yasuda offers a fresh perspective on the aesthetics of modern Japanese literature. Focusing on major Japanese novelists who delved into questions of beauty at the theoretical, critical, and practical levels, she offers readings of their works featuring visual artists that spur us to gain inspiration from their intellectual, emotional, and sensual engagements with a world that was striated by cultural, political, and social dichotomies that, while not the same, echo our own.»

Indra Levy, Stanford University

«In this bold rereading of four literary giants from the Meiji-Taishō period—Sōseki, Ōgai, Akutagawa, and Mushanokōji—Anri Yasuda deftly analyzes their aesthetics while also revealing the ideology and critical engagement that lie behind their artistic ideals. Placing the writers in dialogue with each other, Yasuda shows how they understood ‘literature’ as a conceptual register to think through real-world questions, connecting closely with their subject matter and their readers, then and now.»

Rachael Hutchinson, University of Delaware

«In this important book, Yasuda takes on the perennially pressing question of literature’s value in society through investigating the aesthetic philosophies of key modern Japanese writers. Her deft close readings of texts that compare the literary and visual arts are remarkably illuminating.»

Charles Inouye, Tufts University

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