Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's uncanny travels in Republican-era China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study focuses on Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's Shina yūki (Travels in China): an account of a four-month journey through eastern, central, and northern China in the spring and summer of 1921. Due to Akutagawa's reputation as a writer and the account's vantage point on a transitional period in Japan's expansion abroad, Travels in China has traditionally enjoyed a prominent place in the canon of twentieth-century Japanese travel writing. What has received less attention, however, is the relation of the work to the rest of Akutagawa's literary corpus. In this paper, I situate Travels in China within the larger context of Akutagawa's ongoing interest in Chinese fiction and drama. Rather than reading Travels in China as a work of journalism, as Akutagawa initially invited his readers to do, I argue that the work is an extended exploration not only of the relationship between ‘New China’ and Akutagawa's beloved traditional Chinese culture, but also of the boundaries separating journalism, fiction, and other literary genres. Ultimately, I connect Travels in China to Akutagawa's later work: texts that similarly interrogate and deconstruct the distinctions between genres and modes of narrating experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJapan Forum
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 1 2016

Keywords

  • Akutagawa Ryūnosuke
  • Japanese travel literature
  • Shina yūki
  • Sino-Japanese
  • Taishō period
  • Travels in China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History

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