Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself: The Nobel Prize Speech and by Kenzaburō Ōe

By Kenzaburō Ōe

The Nobel Prize lecture and different speeches by way of eastern laureate Kenzaburo Oe.

The titles of the 4 lectures:

Speaking on eastern tradition ahead of a Scandinavian Audience

On glossy and modern jap Literature

Japans twin id: A Writers Dilemma

Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself

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Additional info for Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself: The Nobel Prize Speech and Other Lectures

Sample text

Yet, for the first time, freedom of expression was established and guaranteed, and, with it, previ­ ously suppressed literary energy burst forth. The leading figures on the postwar literary scene undertook an intensive reappraisal of their own society in the wake of all the misery it had caused in Asia. The years between 1945 and the economic growth of the sixties was a period marked by the fact that, while people had the greatest difficulty satisfying their material needs, the moral issues they found addressed in the literature of the time were at their highest tide.

Mishima committed harakiri after calling for a coup d ’etat by the unconstitutional Self-Defense Forces, which he could not bear to see relegated to a status that virtually denied their very existence. He wanted to restore them to their role as the emperor’s army, just as he wanted to restore the emperor himself to his place at the center of Japanese culture. The emperor at the heart of things— that was the core o f Mishima’s philoso­ phy, but it was a philosophy founded on his own very peculiar ideas of traditional culture, and it served him and his kind alone.

He sheds his romanticism, ^ 28 ^ parts with the girlfriend who is bound for Africa, and accepts the child, deciding in favor of a lifesaving operation. His decision is for reality: to build a family on reality, to live reality. The novel Manen gannen no futtoboru, trans­ lated into English as The Silent Cry, is structurally more complex than A Personal Matter. It has to do with two very symbolic years in Japanese history: 1860 and 1960. In 1860, just before embarking on its program of modernization, the feudal govern­ ment sent delegates to America for the first time; and in 1960, exactly one hundred years later, the security treaty with America, negotiated at the end o f the Pacific War, was extended.

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