Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction

Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction

by Joel R Cohn


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Unlike traditional Japanese literature, which has a rich tradition of comedy, modern Japanese literature is commonly associated with a high seriousness of purpose. In this path-breaking study, Joel R. Cohn analyzes works by three writers—Ibuse Masuji (1898-1993), Dazai Osamu (1909-1948), and Inoue Hisashi (1934- )—whose works constitute a relentless assault on the notion that comedy cannot be part of serious literature.

Cohn focuses on thematic, structural, and stylistic elements in the works of these writers to show that modern Japanese comedic literature is a product of a particular set of historical, social, and cultural experiences. Cohn finds that cultural and social forces in modern Japan have led to the creation of comic literature that tends to deflect attention away from a human other and turn in on itself in different forms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674847118
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 05/27/1998
Series: Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series , #41
Pages: 273
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Joel R. Cohn is Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Table of Contents


Japanese Comedy

Ibuse Masuji: Out of the Cave

Dazai Osamu: Laughing at the End

The Hisashi Phenomenon



Works Cited


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