Featuring choice selections from the core anthologies The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868–1945, and The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From 1945 to the Present, this collection offers a concise yet remarkably rich introduction to the fiction, poetry, drama, and essays of Japan's modern encounter with the West. Spanning a period of exceptional invention and transition, this volume is not only a critical companion to courses on Japanese literary and intellectual development but also an essential reference for scholarship on Japanese history, culture, and interactions with the East and West.
The first half covers the three major styles of literary expression that informed Japanese writing and performance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: classical Japanese fiction and drama, Chinese poetry, and Western literary representation and cultural critique. Their juxtaposition brilliantly captures the social, intellectual, and political challenges shaping Japan during this period, particularly the rise of nationalism, the complex interaction between traditional and modern forces, and the encroachment of Western ideas and writing. The second half conveys the changes that have transformed Japan since the end of the Pacific War, such as the heady transition from poverty to prosperity, the friction between conflicting ideologies and political beliefs, and the growing influence of popular culture on the country's artistic and intellectual traditions. Featuring sensitive translations of works by Nagai Kafu, Natsume Soseki, Oe Kenzaburo, Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio, and many others, this anthology relates an essential portrait of Japan's dynamic modernization.