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In this essay I am going to explore modernism, mentioning a range of authors and their works. First, we have to think of what we consider the ‘modern era’ to be, which authors belong to the modern Japanese literature period and what was their impact on the literature itself. Where did modernism first appeared and in which form can we witness it in the authors’ works? Which Japanese authors have stigmatized this modern era with their works and through which of their works? These are all the questions we must take into consideration before we explore modernism as well as literary modernism. The term modernism refers to a philosophical movement that appeared in the western world during late 19th and early 20th centuries. Urbanization, the development of societies as well as world war I assisted in shaping modernism. Many artists, authors and poets throughout this period were influenced by the world war I as well as thinkers like Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Such authors/poets were Alfred Noyes (The wind Press), Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front) and John McCrae (In Flanders Fields) (Parrott et al., 1972; Strachan, 2000). However, this artistic movement blossomed in Japan a little later around the 1920s and 1930s. Many trends made their appearance during the modernist movement, but literature was one of the most significant products of it. It is a period in which the novelists tried to invent a new style of writing and incorporate various elements that were considered modern back then like café, salons etc. and describe the luxurious life in the city, which made young readers specifically, really interested in their work. What was characteristic about the work of the modern novelists was the usage of metaphors and symbolisms. The readers had different interpretations of the texts just because the usage of hidden meanings was really common. However, that made the reading of the works significantly difficult and that became the reason why the reputation of the authors appeared to be controversial most of the times. Japanese have a unique relationship with literature. Respect for learnedness is a big part of their tradition being influenced by the Confucianism. Books are valuable to them and they are really serious about reading. This love for literature was the one to impel them to create their own modern literature. Wanting to witness new types of literature writing, they translated many western books as well during the so-called Era of Enlightenment (Kaika). With ‘Naturalism’ movement being arisen in Japan in the beginning of the 20th century, writers started to talk about real problems and real people in their works. The first Japanese modernists appeared to be Kunikida who is known for his idyllic satire. One of his works being about “a school-teacher, and the meanderings of his forlorn old countryman Uncle Oji” (Kirby, 1948). Another great writer was Natsume with works like the trilogy Sanshiro in which he tried to examine the varieties of human friendship. A very talented author who helped in the development of modernism in poetry was Kitagawa Fuyuhiko (1900-1990). Kitagawa actually developed the form of ‘tanshi’ (short poetry) influenced by the French poetry. He ended up experimenting with longer forms of poetry (New Prose Poem and cinépoème). He has written many poems but his most well known is ‘Rush hour’ and is a part of the ‘War’ collection. In addition, two concepts started to appear in the post-war period even though they were still under debate in the 1920s. The concept of “pure literature” (jun bungaku) and “mass literature” (taishû bungaku) (Wollaeger et al., 2013) It is vital that we examine some of the Japanese modernist authors’ work, mentioning some quotes from their texts. First, in Tanizaki Junichiro’s Tattoo which was written in 1910, Tanizaki writes about a talented tattoo artist named Seikichi whose secret pleasure is to cause pain with his needle to the man who he tattoos. “When the pricking needles caused the flesh to swell and the crimson blood to flow, his patients, unable to endure the agony, would emit groans of pain. The more they groaned, the greater was the artist’ strange pleasure.” (Tanizaki, 2010, 93)We see him sometimes trying to cause intentional pain even to the costumers that his needle does not bother them. His great desired although, was to mark a beautiful girl with one of his masterpieces. After a long period of time a young girl appears in his front door. Seikichi wanting to make her dreams come true and believing that his art will be able to do so, he finally gets the chance to fulfil his desires. However, when he tattooed the girl it was really different from when he tattooed the men. We can even see that the way Tanizaki describes the scene is different than the way he described how the protagonist tattoos men. There is a poetic tone that he uses making it seem like he already dedicated his whole self into this tattoo.”As the people of Memphis once embellished with sphinxes and pyramids the fine land of Egypt, so Seikichi now adorned the pure skin of this young girl” (Tanizaki, 2010, 96).He somehow identifies his work on this young woman with one of the greatest accomplishments of human race. We can clearly see that he’s really careful when he’s tattooing the girl whereas in the case of man he does not really care about how his art is going to turn out on them. All he can concentrate at is the pleasure that he gets from their pain. When he’s tattooing the girl if feels like he is torturing himself as if he’s tattooing his own self.”Now its stroke demanded an effort, and the artist would let out a site, as if his own heart had felt the prick” (Tanizaki, 2010, 99).One more thing should be pointed here, the fact that the subject of this story appears to be a modern one. Tattoos are indeed a part of the Japanese culture and is considered a social art form in the Meiji Era in Japan. However, the art of tattooing was banned in Japan the period that Tanizaki published this story meaning that he wanted to show to the world a part of the Japanese culture. One of the many ways we can interpret the story is to think that the tattooer’s actions symbolize the Japanese government who does not want to accept the art. Another interpretation we can possible make is that the young women has adopted some ‘characteristics’ of the spider. Spiders are sometime venomous and appear intimidating to many people. The girl seems to have gone through a transformation as soon as she exits the bathroom. She seems like she’s older, with more experience in her life. The symbolism here appears to be in what she replies to Seikichi.”My heart is now free from all fear. And … you shall be my first victim!” (Tanizaki, 2010, 100)Having the characteristics of a spider, we could say that the girl trapped him in her web and planned to make him the “first victim” by seeking revenge. Now that she is one of his creations and seems to be turning against him, we see him being empty. What Tanizaki seems that he wants to get across is how an artist can be affected by his art and how a man can lose himself when he eventually finds what he is looking for and falls in love. In this story the modernist elements are clear. The author decided to use the different kinds of relation an artist have with his costumers to indicate the kinds of relations humans can have with art or maybe even the way people use art to get a point across. The way he tried to make that come true in the story, was to present us two kinds of reaction while he performed his art depending on the gender of the costumer, we see Seikichi having different reactions. Another great Japanese author of the modern period that must be mentioned is Motojiro Kajii. With his short story ‘Lemon’ we can see how the author is using many hidden meanings and symbols which are a characteristic of literary modernism. It is a story about an unhappy man that used to find joy in poetry and books but now has fallen on dark times. Nevertheless, he manages to find beauty in unusual places. He ends up finding comfort in the existence of a perfect lemon. In the last scene the protagonist is in Maruzen, a department store, and has left the lemon on top of the books he used to read. The story might seem a simple one but if we pay closer attention to what the author wants to tell us then we will be into thoughts. To begin with, we have the protagonist who admits that has depression. He used to love books and poetry, things that are consider sophisticated. It seems that his lifestyle used to be luxurious or close to being luxurious. However, this did not make him truly happy, resulting into him being depressed. It is quite inspiring how the author transforms the character throughout the story. Now, the protagonist finds comfort in the most random places. We see him talking about lemons like they are the most beautiful thing on earth.”And, oh, how I craved those lemons: their colour, like a hardened dollop of pure ‘lemon yellow’ squeezed from a painter’s tube; their shape, a perfectly compressed spindle… I decided to buy one. Then once again I set off roaming the streets of Kyoto. I walked for a long time. I felt unusually happy, for it seemed as if the ominous mass that had been weighting upon me for so long had grown lighter the moment I had grasped my new possession” (Kajii, 2010, 151)The author uses a pretty poetic way to describe this scene which mean that it is a beautiful and an important moment for our protagonist. It does not matter where people choose to find happiness, although most of the times the small things in life, the ones that most people ignore or consider them a given, are the wants that can make us truly happy in this life. As the protagonist starts to realize that, he finds himself in front of the department store he used to hang out to, spending hours and hours reading books. This place used to be his favourite but now avoids going to. However, we see him entering the place thinking “let’s give it a try”. The action alone leaves us with a lot of questions. Why would he decide to enter the place now after all this time? One of the possible answers would be that he was feeling cheerful as well as confident because of his possession of the lemon. Confident enough to face up his past lifestyle that made him go through depression. He does not seem careful with the books, instead he just leaves them laying on the floor. They are not precious to him anymore. The books that used to elate him, now look like a “jumbled collection of colours”. He finds one similarity between his lemon and the books. Their colours. So, he positions the lemon on the “Castle” of books.”As I surveyed my handiwork, silently and serenely, the lemon’s clear hue sucked all the clamorous colours into its spindle shape.” (Kajii, 2010, 153).First, the contrast is clear. They might have one similarity but the lemon in our protagonist’s eyes has clearer hue. In fact, it even absorbs all the colours of the books.”Suddenly I was jolted by another bizarre idea: why not leave the lemon where it sat and innocently walk out? A ticklish feeling came over me. ‘Should I? Why not!’ I briskly left the building. Out on the street, that ticklish sensation drove me to laughter. What a peculiar villain I was, to leave a glittering golden bomb ticking on the shelves of Maruzen.” (Kajii, 2010, 153).This can be seen as a symbolism again. A man turning back to his dark past but having to sacrifice something important for him so that he can win. By sacrificing one of his source of happiness, the one thing that possibly made him brave enough to battle with his demon (they appear as the books or the department store in the story), he lets go and finally can be happy.  In conclusion, what is really important to look at, is the way authors portray the world in their works. These two stories that I analysed so that we can better understand in which form modernism can appear in literature (specifically Japanese literature), show us different types of modernity. Seikichi, mainly brought modern art into focus whereas Kajii focused more on the social life and the everyday problems. Both stories involve a dark concept, Seikichi getting pleasure from hurting other men, the protagonist of ‘Lemon’ having depression. However, in both texts real problems are being addressed. The authors talk about everyday problems in their own distinctive ways and that is a characteristic of modern literature. There is something really ‘modern’ in the way they perceive life as well as how they write about it. Finally, Symbols and hidden meanings can be found anywhere in the texts. That is why the stories are difficult to be interpreted. Considering that these writers are modernist authors we can better understand what we are referring to when we talk about modernism and modern literature. 

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