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Minae Mizumura “Nihongo de Kakutoiukoto” (What it is to write in Japanese)

Mizumura is a scholar and writer, who is well-known for her essay entitled “The Fall of Language in the Age of English”. This book is also a collection of her essays which includes some of the academic essays she penned when she was studying French literature at Yale Graduate School. An essay dedicated to Paul de Man, who is a Belgian-born literary theorist and taught at Yale is also included.

Personally, I found an essay on Soseki particulary intriguing. It was in 1907 that Soseki abandoned his professor position at Tokyo Imperial University and became an exclusive novel writer for the Asahi Newspaper. According to Mizumura, this incident was symbolic. What academics were doing at universities back then were just aping of the West. Soseki in a sense left the empty world and entered another in order to work out something original and substantial, whether it was Japanese literature, Japanese language, or identity.

This essay has made me want to reread Soseki.

Have you read any?

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