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Futabatei Shimei

(1864-1909) One of the leading Japanese authors and translators of the late 19th century, who created Japan's first modern novel (Ukigumo) while still in his early twenties. Real name Hasegawa Tatsunosuke; born in Edo (now Tokyo). Brilliant, idealistic, and imbued with a passion for his country, Futabatei epitomizes the talented youth who led Japan to a new eminence in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Futabatei consciously constructed an appropriate language for the literature of contemporary Japan, shearing away the elegances of the classical written language and replacing it with a style known as gembun itchi (unification of the spoken and written language). Major works include Ukigumo (1887-89, Drifting Clouds; tr in Japan's First Modern Novel: Ukigumo of Futabatei Shimei, 1967), Sono omokage (1906, tr An Adopted Husband, 1919), and translations of works by Turgenev, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, Goncharov, and Gorky. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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