The turn to China : representing Lu Xun in early 1940s Japan
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The report revolves around two Japanese biographies of Lu Xun produced during the Greater East Asian War: Takeuchi Yoshimi’s scholarly biography Lu Xun (Rojin, 1944) and Dazai Osamu’s fictional biography A Regretful Farewell (Sekibetsu, 1945). It explores a dual structure of resistance in the two works that they not only represent the resistance of literature against political interference, but also exemplify a different positioning of literary imaginations—turn to China, which constitutes an oppositional alternative to the contemporaneous mainstream discourse of “overcoming modernity”—the search for the essence of Japanese civilization and the invention of Japanese traditions that is paradoxically promoted by intellectuals with Western-style mentality. Historicizing the production of the two works onto the very site of the violent collision between literature and politics, I examine their respective creative deployment of the aesthetic resources of Lu Xun: Takeuchi Yoshimi explicates a political understanding of literature as a force of opposition from the life and works of Lu Xun, Dazai Osamu reconstructs the origin myth of literature by rewriting the critical conversion of the “Lantern Slides Incident” in Lu Xun’s literary career.