Associate Professor of Japanese, University of Washington
Edward Mack's profile
Whither Sayoko and Ono? Reading ‘Sōseki’ in São Paolo
On 9 January 1930, an unusual serialization appeared on page 5 of the Burajiru jihō, a Japanese-language newspaper published in Brazil for the rapidly expanding immigrant community there. What was unusual was not the fact that the piece was fiction; an inner page of the paper (then a ten- or twelve-page weekly) was usually dedicated to literary works. Nor was it unusual for it to be a serialization; serialized fiction had been running on the front or last page of the paper since its inception. What was unusual was the fact that the work was a sequel to Natsume Sōseki’s Gubi jinsō (1907), cryptically attributed to an author writing under the name Sanshirō. The serialization continued over the next 18 months, concluding on 16 July 1931.
Rather than providing a glimpse into the lives of Japanese immigrants, as Hosaka Kiichi’s Sōseki sequel Wagahai no mitaru Amerika (1913-14) did, Gubi jinsō kōhen instead provides a glimpse into the nature of the localized reading experience of what we now think of as modern Japanese literature. Even as the sequel’s publication in São Paulo testifies to a broad awareness of Sōseki’s work, the (likely illegal) republication of (all but the last chapter of) a 1924 sequel published in Tokyo by an author who remains unknown to this day (despite also writing two other Sōseki sequels) provides an example of the fragmentary and arbitrary local experience – the diversity – not only of Sōseki, but of the imagined national literary canon as a whole