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Open-Access Article: “Early Freeze Warning: The Politics and Literature Debate as Cold War Culture”

Posted in Books,Japanese literature by bourdaghs on the September 3rd, 2020

An essay of mine originally published in the volume Literature Among the Ruins, 1945-1955: Postwar Japanese Literary Criticism (Lexington Books, 2018) is now available in open-access online form at Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Here’s the abstract:

Abstract: This essay revisits the 1946-7 “Politics and Literature Debate” (Seiji to bungaku ronsō), a pivotal controversy among leftist Japanese writers and intellectuals that is conventionally cited as the starting point of postwar literary history. Situating the debate in tandem with three influential texts published at roughly the same time in the West—Lionel Trilling’s The Liberal Imagination (1951), Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946), and The God That Failed (1950), edited by Richard Crossman—the essay argues that the debate should be considered an early instance of the Cold War culture that would emerge globally in the decades that followed.

Also available from Lexington Books is a companion volume, The Politics and Literature Debate in Postwar Japanese Literary Criticism, 1945-52, an anthology of annotated translations of all the key essays from the celebrated “Politics and Literature Debate” in late 1940s Japan.

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