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Forthcoming: STORIES FROM THE SAMURAI FRINGE Hayashi Fusao's Proletarian Short Stories and the Turn to Ultranationalism in Early Shōwa Japan

Samurai Fringe
Jeff E. Long
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About the Author

Jeff E. Long is Professor of History at Bloomsburg University.

About the Book

Few events have symbolized the interwar Japanese intellectual community’s inability to put up a principled resistance to the Japanese government’s growing authoritarianism like the tenkō phenomenon of the 1930s (the political and/or ideological renunciation of the Communist Party and its affiliated organizations and activities).  Instead of eliminating its political dissidents in the 1920s and 1930s, the Japanese state arrested them, placed them in solitary confinement, and then used inducements to encourage them to sign a tenkō statement, hence, rehabilitating and returning them to Japanese society.  Previous studies have highlighted the institutional elements of repression, the intellectual’s personal struggles to remain committed to Marxism, or more recently the rejection of Leftist thought as a starting point for the rise of ethnic nationalism during the early Shōwa years (1926-1937).

Prioritizing the agency of the individual, this monograph is an attempt to engage the tenkō phenomenon from the intellectual’s perspective, examining the tenkō of writer and literary critic Hayashi Fusao (1903-1975).  Hayashi was a member of the Japanese literati whose turn to ultranationalism in the 1930s and 1940s was so extreme that scholars often discount altogether his time in the radical student movement and his participation in the proletarian literature movement.  Flipping the mirror on this interpretation, here we examine Hayashi’s tenkō through a close reading of his proletarian short stories.  As a result, this work also draws attention to one of the more controversial intellectual and cultural issues during Japan’s “red decade” (1925-1935), the political role of literature in contesting the state’s dominance of state-society relations in imperial Japan.


INTRODUCTION The Tenkō Experience, Hayashi Fusao, and Ideology

1 A Sullied Lineage in Modernizing Japan Hayashi Fusao's Marxist Turn in Memory

2 Humanism and Socialism Hayashi Fusao's Marxist Turn in Literature

3 To Inspire, Instruct, Entertain, and Reproach Hayashi Fusao's Proletarian Children's Stories as Literature and Politics

4 Politics and Literature Romanticizing Factory Workers, Student Radicals, and Labor Organizers in Hayashi Fusao's Proletarian Literature

5 Literature as Political Staging Ground Defining Factory Workers, Student Radicals, and Labor Organizers in Hayashi Fusao's Proletarian Literature

6 Departing the Movement and Enabling Tenkō Remembering Factory Workers, Student Radicals, and Labor Organizers in Hayashi Fusao's Proletarian Literature

7 Crossing the Threshold Hayashi Fusao's Tenkō Ideology and the Marxist Legacy of Dissent

8 Evoking the Idyllic Childhood Sun and Roses and Hayashi Fusao's Turn to Ultranationalism

9 Epilogue The Politics of Literature, The Politics of Tenkō Hayashi Fusao's Search for Authenticity


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