Literary Representation for Silence and Chinkon on trans-national poetics the introspective-ness and talkative-ness of the cases of Japanese “dual-national” writers

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Madoka Hori


In Japan, within the Japanese common customs, to remember the dead through chinkon (鎮魂: the idea of “repose of souls” or a kind of literary requiem) is considered to be a natural and inevitable thing, since ancient times. To “commit,” “transmit,” and “preserve” the catastrophic memories of disasters and wars, including individual events, has been paid the careful attention and a quite rich method and literary tradition has been accumulated. At the same time, in other words, the same applies to "silence" and "not writing. Is this kind of Oriental religious consciousness a unique cultural aspect? Or are they universal in world literature? In fact, this is not only the most important question when considering the history of Japanese literature, but also from the perspective of international literary history and modernist literature. 

This presentation deeply reflects issues relating to the consciousness of the introspective – ness and talkative – ness, focusing on the expressions of Silence and Chinkon of poetics by Japanese “dual national” writers in the US; such as Yone Noguchi (1874 – 1948) and Shigetsu Sasaki (1882 – 1945). Their experimental English poetry and essays in the early 20th century, that were appreciated by their contem­poraries in the US and Japan, were not unrelated to the global interest in Eastern Traditional Aesthetic and Eastern religion; such as Buddhism and Zen.

We consider the expressions of the ways of coping –with memories – of the uniqueness and the characteristics of Eastern literary basis. And then, we have to think of the use of Silence, and Chinkon expressions, and how they were employed for what, for whom. Modern literature in the 20th century, both in the US and Japan, were not isolated from each other. They developed in constant dialogue between the aesthetics and traditions of the West and East.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Comparative Literature and Oriental Literary Theory