Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Valueby Edward Mack, Rey Chow (Editor), Michael Dutton (Editor), Harry Harootunian (Editor), Rosalind C. Morris (Editor)
Emphasizing how modes of book production, promotion, and consumption shape ideas of literary value, Edward Mack examines the role of Japan's publishing industry in defining modern Japanese literature. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, as cultural and economic power consolidated in Tokyo, the city's literary and publishing elites came to dominate
Emphasizing how modes of book production, promotion, and consumption shape ideas of literary value, Edward Mack examines the role of Japan's publishing industry in defining modern Japanese literature. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, as cultural and economic power consolidated in Tokyo, the city's literary and publishing elites came to dominate the dissemination and preservation of Japanese literature. As Mack explains, they conferred cultural value on particular works by creating prizes and multivolume anthologies that signaled literary merit. One such anthology, the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature (published between 1926 and 1931), provided many readers with their first experience of selected texts designated as modern Japanese literature. The low price of one yen per volume allowed the series to reach hundreds of thousands of readers. An early prize for modern Japanese literature, the annual Akutagawa Prize, first awarded in 1935, became the country's highest-profile literary award. Mack chronicles the history of book production and consumption in Japan, showing how advances in technology, the expansion of a market for literary commodities, and the development of an extensive reading community enabled phenomena such as the Complete Works of Contemporary Japanese Literature and the Akutagawa Prize to manufacture the very concept of modern Japanese Literature.
“. . . thoughtful and careful. . . . [A]n . . . excellent work of scholarship which pulls together analytical strands from print culture and literature and offers a meaningful contribution to English-language scholarship. I heartily recommend it.” - Andrew Kamei-Dyche, SHARP News
“Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature provides a compelling sociological critique of the institution of literature in early twentieth-century Japan. . . . The problems Mack deals with in Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature remain urgent concerns today, and his compelling study gives us some of the tools we need to grapple with them effectively.” - Michael K. Bourdaghs, Journal of Japanese Studies
“Edward Mack pulls the Japanese literary field out of the regressive myth of autonomous art and into the realms of social discourse and material practice. He compels us to reconsider the role of literary production and publishing in constructing concepts of cultural authority, national identity, and empire. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature is a rich, rewarding work.”—Ann Sherif, author of Japan’s Cold War: Media, Literature, and the Law
Meet the Author
Edward Mack is Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Washington.
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