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Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian JapanChildhood, Korea, and the Historical Avant-Garde$
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Samuel Perry

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838935

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838935.001.0001

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Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan

(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
Recasting Red Culture in Proletarian Japan

Samuel Perry

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book aims to restore much of the forgotten ideological and aesthetic complexity of Japan's proletarian movement and show that it must be central to any understanding of modern Japanese culture in the early Shōwa period. Instead of focusing on the celebrated novels of proletarian literature, a body of fiction that was canonized in large part by the Japanese Communist Party, it excavates from the historical archive hitherto unexamined works of proletarian culture: fairy tales, children's songs, propaganda, “wall fiction,” as well as several works of poetry, fiction, and criticism about colonial Korea. These short narratives were not simply epiphenomena of theoretical debates of the time, but constituted theoretically rich documents themselves and were engaged in a dialogue with historical events, broader intellectual and social practices, as well as questions of political consciousness and literary representation. By translating and performing close readings of many of these unknown pieces, the book offers a new portrait of the movement, its major concerns, and its mode of dialectical analysis, in part to challenge the misconception of proletarian literature as a crude instrument of propaganda.

Keywords:   proletarian cultural movement, Japan, Japanese culture, Japanese literature, proletarian literature, proletarian culture

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