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CoverSchnellbächer, Thomas
Abe Kōbō , Literary Strategist.
The Evolution of his Agenda and Rhetoric in the Context of Postwar Japanese Avant-garde and Communist Artist's Movements

2004 • ISBN 978-3-89129-822-0 · 508 p.,  Paperback ·  EUR 40,—

Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Irmela (ed.): Iaponia Insula. Studien zu Kultur und Gesellschaft Japans (Bd. 13)

     

     

Among the great authors of postwar Japan, Abe Kōbō (1924–1993) is the mechanic. Works such as The Woman in the Dunes (1962), which brought him worldwide renown, conduct a profound analysis of human existence, while revelling in technical detail. The early postwar years were not only formative for Abe as a writer and political activist, they were also formative years for Japanese literature, culture, and politics. While progressing, in his own words, "from existentialism, to surrealism, and on to Communism", Abe published numerous treatises, tracts and other essays of various kinds concerning revolutionary aesthetics and the historic role of the arts, between artistic autonomy and social commitment. Abe's essays show the maturing of both his artistic and aesthetic agenda, and of his essay style. This process also involves political disillusionment, raising the question of what bearing Abe's earlier radical positions have on his more mature work.

 This study examines Abe Kōbō's programmatic essays written between his repatriation from Manchuria in 1947 and his expulsion from the Communist Party in 1962. The texts are placed in the context of the artistic and political groups in which he was active, and of the broader literary issues of the time, centring on the quest for a new beginning in literature.


Thomas Schnellbächer was born in Frankfurt/Main, but received most of his school education in the United Kingdom. He studied Japanese Studies, later supplemented by German Literature and Chinese Studies, at the Universities of Cambridge and Frankfurt/Main. The present book is a slightly revised version of his doctoral dissertation (2001) at Berlin Free University, where he has taught since 2002.

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