Federica Micozzi

Yokomitsu Riichi and his Time: Between Identity and Difference

Yokomitsu Riichi 横光利一 (1898-1947) was a prominent figure of the Japanese bundan 文壇 (literary world) from his debut in the 1920s until the end of WWII. Alongside Kawabata Yasunari 川端康成, he was one of the leading members of the modernist group of writers known as Shinkankaku-ha 新感覚派 (School of the Neo-Perceptionists), and he is widely recognized as one of the most important representatives of modernism in Japan. The meandering trajectory of his career is usually narrated as divided into two different phases separated by a tenkō 転向 (conversion): a passage from the exteriority of a modernism amply influenced by European artistic trends, to the interiority of a return to Japan, a conversion to the ideology of ultra-nationalism\fascism.

Taking as a premise the existence of various modernisms, as local responses to conditions of modernity brought about by processes of modernization, and interpreting fascism as a form of modernism, striving to construct an alternative modernity, my doctoral project will abandon the rhetoric of a turn in Yokomitsu's œuvre in order to consider his literary works in terms of continuity between the Shinkankaku-ha modernism and his later inscription into the discourse of fascism. Regarding literature as symptomatic of its historical period, my dissertation intends to examine Yokomitsu's late works in their dialectical interplay with the coeval intellectual, philosophical and socio-political discourses, with a keen attention to the construction of the binary opposition between East and West as a manifestation of fascist ideology. Accordingly, my research will focus on Yokomitsu's voyage to Europe in 1936, his first actual encounter with that powerful Western Other against which Japanese identity was being structured, and on the literary offspring of that journey: the travel diary Ōshū Kikō 欧州 紀行 (European Travelogue, 1937), and the novel Ryoshū 旅愁 (The Melancholy of Travel 1937-1946).

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Letzte Änderung: 04.03.2024
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