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Holy GhostsThe Christian Century in Modern Japanese Fiction$
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Rebecca Suter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824840013

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824840013.001.0001

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A Poetic Religion Full of Paradoxes

A Poetic Religion Full of Paradoxes

(p.39) Chapter 2 A Poetic Religion Full of Paradoxes
Holy Ghosts

Rebecca Suter

University of Hawai'i Press

The chapter investigates the representation of the Christian century in early twentieth-century Japan as a metaphor for modernization, cultural negotiation, and power relations. It first discusses the surge of interest in Christian culture as an object of exoticizing fascination by intellectuals such as Kinoshita Mokutarō and Kitahara Hakushū. It then concentrates on a close reading of some of Akutagawa Ryūnosuke’s Kirishitan mono, a series of short stories published between 1916 and 1927. Written at the height of Japan’s cosmopolitanism, the texts present the relationship between Jesuit missionaries and medieval Japanese as a universal metaphor for the encounter with the Other. The chapter also reassesses Akutagawa’s role within Japanese literature, and particularly his use of the fantastic genre as a basis for political engagement.

Keywords:   Twentieth century, modernization, cosmopolitanism, Jesuit, missionaries, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

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