The Meiji Literary Scene
This introduction situates Shimazaki Tōson in the literary scene of the Meiji period. It begins with a discussion of the influx of European culture in Japan dating from 1543 and the first literary responses to the renewed European presence, with particular emphasis on the “literature of enlightenment” and political novels. It then considers how the tensions caused by the problems of translating and emulating European writings gave rise to a movement known as genbun itchi, “unification of the written and spoken,” the linguistic portion of the overall Meiji program of standardization. It also examines how Romanticism became an integral part of Japanese life through works of literature written between the late 1880s and the 1890s. Finally, it looks at the emergence of new poetry in Japan, led by Tōson's Young Herbs of 1897, and Japanese Naturalism.
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