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Exhausted by their Battles with the World: Neurasthenia and the Late-Meiji Writer

October 30, 2009 - 12:00pm
Okimoto Conference Room, Encina Hall, East Wing, 3rd Floor
CEAS BROWN BAG SERIES Christopher Hill, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University Neurasthenia or Shinkei suijaku entered the cultural imagination of Japan in the late nineteenth century and after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) became a ubiquitous vehicle for criticizing the state of Japanese society. As a "disease of civilization," caused by the stresses of modern life, neurasthenia was easily transformed into a social metaphor. Japanese writers eagerly appropriated the idea as they worked to create new forms of fiction. Shimazaki Tôson's 1908 novel Haru (Spring) illustrates the possibilities and limitations of neurasthenia as a vehicle for social critique, which extended to writers' own conceptions of their enterprise.
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Center for East Asian Studies
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