Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Shimazaki Tōson

(1872-1943). Poet, novelist, most famous Japanese proponent of naturalism. Born in Magome in Nagano Prefecture. Real name Shimazaki Haruki. He entered Meiji Gakuin, a college with Protestant Christian affiliations, and graduated in 1891. He became one of the coterie that began the noted literary journal Bungakukai (1893-98, World of Literature). The publication in 1906 of his first novel, Hakai (tr The Broken Commandment, 1974), began Tōson’s distinguished career as a novelist. This novel is considered a landmark of modern Japanese realism. His other masterpiece was Ie (1919-11; tr The Family, 1976) which is a slow-moving and detailed account of the decline of two provincial families to which the protagonist is closely related. The gestures and silences of the characters, as well as the surroundings, subtly convey meanings. Ie is considered to be the "classic" Japanese naturalistic novel. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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