Japanese Cinema and Literature


The relationship between Japanese cinema and literature has remained a rich topic of study not only because of the long history of adaptations of literary works into film, but also because artists on both sides have been intrigued, both for artistic and political reasons, with the potentials posed by the other medium. Some of this research can contribute to the ongoing discussion of adaptation, but there's always been the danger of much of it falling into dull comparisons of the original and the copy or trite claims about "visual" literature or about "literary" film. My writings on the topic, which include essays on Tanizaki, Akutagawa, and about the word and image in Japanese cinema, as well as a book on A Page of Madness, have tried to avoid these pitfalls by focusing on how each medium has pictured the other, within a larger discursive field defined by conflicts over the definitions of image and language.

Toeda Hirokazu of Waseda University is the preeminent literature scholar working on these issues in Japan, and he has just come out with an exciting edited volume as part of Shinwasha's Nihon eigashi sosho series (another volume of which featured my essay on Japanese film criticism).

Toeda Hirokazu, ed. Odansuru eiga to bungaku (Tokyo: Shinwasha, 2011).
ISBN 9784864050265

This anthology features prominent scholars writing about various aspects of film and literature: Toeda himself on the Shinkankakuha and A Page of Madness; Saito Ayako on Izumi Kyoka, Mizoguchi Kenji, and Taki no Shiraito; Fujii Jinshi on Tsuzurikata kyoshitsu; Shimura Miyoko on Kikuchi Kan when he was head of Daiei; Iwamoto Kenji on humorous literature and film; and Hase Masato on Hasegawa Shin. Other essays discuss Sakaguchi Ango, Nakazato Kaizan's Daibosatsu toge, Terayama Shuji, Nakagami Kenji, Ozu Yasujiro and Satomi Ton. 

This will become a valuable resource for approaching the somewhat hazardous, but immensely rewarding issue of the connections between film and literature.

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