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Mori Ōgai

(1862-1922). Novelist, critic, and medical scientist. Real name Mori Rentarō . Born in Tsuwana, Iwami Province (now part of Shimane Prefecture). The Mori family, founded in the mid-17th century, were hereditary domain physicians in the service of the daimyō of Tsuwano, the Kamei family. As eldest son, Ōgai studied to continue the family tradition as a doctor; but while in medical school he developed an interest in literature. After graduation, he entered the army as a medical officer, and by the time of his retirement in 1916 he had become head of the medical division of the Army Ministry, the highest position within the medical corps. Though he published a few short stories and works of poetry during his career as a doctor, his most productive period as a writer began as he was nearing the end of his military career. Short stories include Hannichi (1909, A Half Day) and Hyaku monogatari (1911, One Hundred Tales); novels include Wita sekusuarisu (1909, Vita Sexualis) and Seinen (1910-11, A Youth). Later works include historical stories such as Sakai jiken (1914, The Sakai Incident), Takasebune (1916, The Takase Boat) and Ōshio Heihachirō (1914) and biographies of Edo-period doctors who specialized in Chinese medicine: Shibue Chūsai (1916), Izawa Ranken (1916-17), and Hōjō Katei (1917-21). Ōgai considered these biographies as his major work. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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