After two hundred years of national isolation, Japan set its sites on establishing a modern nation-state. This time was called the Meiji Restoration (1866-1869), and it was the catalyst towards the industrialization of Japan.  Japan was influenced by the West and also made many significant changes to their society during this time. Literature was an area of the culture that went through a major state of reform.  The literature being written during the Meiji era was heavily influenced by Western sources, especially by Russian authors.  Russian literature influenced modern Japanese literature through the style of writing, writing about social and cultural changes unique to their times and through themes.

Futabatei Shimei, the Japanese author accredited with penning the first modern Japanese novel, Ukigumo, was heavily influenced by Russian authors. At first, Futabatei’s interest in Russian literature was due to international conflicts and problems that Japan was going through at the time.

“To him, Russian was the greatest threat to Japan’s future. ‘We have to protect ourselves in some way.  The Russian language would be the most essential weapon for our defense.  This chain of reasoning led me to enter the Russian department of the foreign language school.’  In time, Futabatei’s interest in the Russian language would evolve into a passion for Russian literature” (Ryan 19).  This demonstrated to Futabatei that there was more to be learned from the Russian language and literature than how to use it in retaliation should Japan ever have to face Russia in a political conflict.  Futabatei was especially interested in the style of writing which the Russian authors used and this led him to look at the problems within his own nation differently.

“I did not love literature in the ordinary, literary sense.  Instead I became fascinated with the observation, analysis, and predications of social phenomena or problems which the Russian writers treated – things which had never occurred to me to consider in my earlier preoccupation with the problems of the nation as a whole” (Ryan 20). This will later lead Futabatei to change his style of writing and make it more accessible and understandable to all classes of Japanese, not just the higher class citizens.

In the early years of Futabatei’s studies of Russian literature, Fyodor Dostoevsky was his favorite author.  After reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Futabatei felt that there was more to life than before.  “He was especially interested in Dostoevsky’s psychological approach and in what Futabatei referred to as his ‘religious’ message” (Ryan 31).  Futabatei was deeply moved by the novel and it’s important moral theme and it’s life philosophy that “man must have the courage to live as he believed he should, even if by doing so he collided directly with the forces of the world to the detriment of his own well being” (Ryan 31-32).

The style in which Crime and Punishment was written influenced Futabatei and it can be seen in how he put together his own work, Ukigumo.   When Dostoevsky started writing Crime and Punishment, it began as a first person narrative, but he found that as the story progressed into a novel, the form was hard to continue with.  The unsteadiness of his main character, Raskolnikov’s mind had to be maintained. His confused and chaotic thoughts about the crimes he committed would keep him from being a reliable narrator.

“Fear gained more and more mastery over him, especially after this second, quite unexpected murder.  He longed to run away from the place as fast as possible. And if at that moment he had been capable of seeing and reasoning more correctly, if he had been able to realize all the difficulties of his position, the hopelessness, the hideousness and the absurdity of it, if he could have understood how many obstacles and, perhaps, crimes he had still to overcome or commit, to get out of that place and to make his way home, it is very possible that he would have flung up everything, and would have gone to give himself up, and not from fear, but from the simple horror and loathing of what he had done.  The feeling of loathing especially surged up within him and grew stronger every minute” (Dostoevsky 77).

If Dostoevsky had continued to write Crime and Punishment in the first person narrative, the reader would not have had the this outside look at Raskolnikov and they would not have gotten the foreshadowing of what is going to happen to him as the guilt of the crimes eat away and him, regardless of how justified he felt when he decided to committed them.

“‘Narration from the point of view of the author,’ he jots down, a ‘sort of invisible and omniscient being, who does no leave him [the character] for a moment, even with the words: ‘All that was done completely by chance.’” (Frank xiv).

Even though Dostoevsky decided to change the form to a third person narrative, he had concluded that he would have to stick close to his main character, which would enable him to still show the complicated psychological workings of Raskolnikov’s mind, without sacrificing presentation of telling the story.

Futabatei also decided that he would use a narrator to tell his story Ukigumo.  He used the narrator to speak for the characters and unveil their inner thoughts, their inner monologue, to the reader.

“In Ukigumo, Futabatei used this same device to indicate the inner workings of Bunzo’s mind. As Bunzo broods over why he was dismissed, for instance, we see his bitterness, his uncertainties, and his confusion in a way which could not be so clearly revealed by objective description” (Ryan 92).

Later in the novel, Futabatei abandoned the use of the inner monologue and told the story strictly from the third person narrative. Some critics said this was because Futabatei had put much of himself into his character Bunzo.

“His outer calm contrasted sharply with the activity within him. Jolted into awareness by the cruel treatment he had received, he suddenly saw things in an entirely new light. The veil of his passion which had been distorting his reason was torn away and his mind grew clear.  With his dormant intellect finally awakened, he was able to evaluate the world around him sensibly and objectively. In some intangible way, Bunzo was reborn, although not completely, of course (Futabatei 333).

In this passage. Futabatei uses the narrator to explain and describe the inner turmoil that Bunzo is feeling after having a fight with his cousin and aunt.  Had a inner monologue been used, we would have seen Bunzo’s angry thoughts but the situation and Bunzo’s rebirth would not have been as understandable to the reader.


Before Futabatei began writing Ukigumo, he did work translating and critiquing Russian works of literature.  One of the authors whom Futabatei translated was another well known and famous Russian author, Nikolai Gogol.  Although it’s unknown which works of Gogol’s Futabatei worked on, the influence Gogol’s writing left on Futabatei is noticeable in Ukigumo.

“Gogol’s work was satirical, but not in the ordinary sense.  It was not objective, but subjective satire.  His characters were not realistic caricatures of the world without, but introspective caricatures of the fauna of his own mind.  They were exteriorizations of his own “ugliness” and “vices”. […] Dead Souls was a satire of self, and of Russia and mankind only in so far as Russia and mankind reflected that self” (Mirsky 146).

In Gogol’s work Dead Souls, he made his characters into gross stereotypes of Russian citizens.  The valet for the novel’s main character, who is lower in social standings, is described as follows:

“[…] Petrushka went around in a rather loose-fitting, hand-me-down brown frockcoat and had – as is customary with people of his calling – a large nose and thick lips. By nature he was more taciturn than talkative and even had a noble impulse towards learning […] he had two other peculiarities: he slept just as he was, without undressing, coat and all; and he carried around with him his own personal aura, a peculiar smell, somewhat redolent of crowded quarters,[…]”(Gogol 27).

Gogol uses this description to let the reader know that the Russians of this time who were valets and handled their master’s trunk and other belongings were poor. They did not have a lot therefore they wore hand-me-downs which did not fit them properly. They were possessive about their possessions, hence Gogol’a character Petrushka sleeping with all his clothing on. Gogol also make a generalization about the physical attributes that people in the position of valet have and that they were uncleanly.

Futabatei also described his characters to fit a stereotype of that time.

“[…] a woman named Omasa who has been his mistress and became his second wife.  Her background is a little hazy; she claimed to be of a respectable samurai family but well, one wonders.  At any rate she was shrewd; in fact, shrewd enough to collect rent and press people for the payments on their loans, besides caring for her family.  Her flaws were minor: she drank too much, was rather wanton in her ways, and hated to sew.  Her neighbors made much of her faults, the way people will.  They said she was the reincarnation of a lustful snake and hinted that there might be others in her life” (Futabatie 206).

This passage is describing the main character, Bunzo’s, aunt.  Futabatei wrote this to show that people of the time were leery of those without a clear background.  Omasa was looked down upon for being a strong-willed woman who handled matters that men normally dealt with instead of being the meek and docile woman sitting at home sewing for her husband.

What Futabatei also had in common with Gogol was that they wrote for the good of their countries. Gogol “was finally convinced that his vocation was to ‘be useful’ to his country by the power of his imaginative genius” (Mirsky 145). While Futabatei decided that he needed to use a new form of writing called gembun itchi to appeal to the masses and make his work understandable by all the classes of the Japanese society. “His knowledge of Russian fiction directed his attention to colloquial language, for Russian critics often spoke of the need to use colloquial Russian syntax in order to create realistic fiction” (Ryan 84).

Ukigumo is the first modern novel with extended passages of narrative in colloquial Japanese.  This was a remarkable accomplishment and endowed Ukigumo with a unique distinction in literary history […] Futabatei’s forte lay in reproducing speech; he handles dialogue with an ease and surety remarkable in so inexperienced a writer.  He transfers this ability to the narrative portions of the novel and through the use of the interior monologue and extensive narrative passages related from his hero’s point of view. This technique, which Futabatei adopted from Russian fiction, can be viewed as a development of a practice already familiar in joruri forms” (Ryan 89).

By using gembun itchi and the colloquial language of Japan, Futabatei’s writing would reach the common everyday person and not just the highly educated upper crust of society.  The use of this writing style, among other things, is what makes Futabatei’s Ukigumo the first modern novel of Japan.

Unfortunately, another thing Gogol and Futabatei had in common was that neither author completed another notable work after their most famous pieces, Dead Souls and Ukigumo:

“This was the summit of Gogol’s literary career and, practically, the end of his work as an imaginative writer. The subsequent developments were unexpected and disappointing, and still form one of the strangest and most disconcerting passages in the history of the Russian mind” (Mirsky 145).

“Despite the fame his work brought him, Futabatei still lacked confidence in his ability.  While the public awaited Part Three of Ukigumo, Futabatei was struggling with each chapter.  By June of 1889 he had begun to doubt his choice of career.  He questioned his ability to write a novel which would meet his standards and wondered if he were suited to the literary life. After several months of worry and depression, he finally concluded that he best take a position in the government” (Ryan 97).

Unfortunately the literary world lost out on two very talented and influential writers.

During the time of Gogol and Dostoevsky and Turgenev, another writer Futabatei admired, there was much going on in their counties which spurred them to write.  Japan had the Meiji Restoration where the country’s bakufu (shogunate) ruling came to an end and the political and social structure of the country went under a major renovation. Shortly before Japan had their restoration, Russia was going through major changes itself with the Emancipation of the serfs.  In 1861 the manifesto granted full rights of free citizens to the serfs and they were able to buy land from their landlords. There was also the Nihilist Movement in the 1860s where people questioned the validity of social norms. They campaigned for independence of the individual and for democratic reforms. Many of the Russian authors used their writing to uncover truths about what was going on with the changes in their country’s social and cultural societies. Futabatei and another Japanese author, Higuchi Ichiyo, followed suit in their writings.

Fathers and Sons, a novel written by Russian author Ivan Turgenev, deals with nihilism and the growing rift between the generations in Russia.  The father, Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov, is awaiting his son’s return from university.  The son, Arkady, comes home and brings with him a friend, Evygeny Vasilev Bazarov.  The “sons” claim to be nihilists and feel that the “fathers” ways of thinking are old and out dated.

“‘[…] A nihilist is a man who doesn’t acknowledge any authorities, who doesn’t accept a single principle on faith, no matter how much that principle may be surrounded by respect.’

‘And that’s a good thing, is it?’ interjected Pavel Petrovich.

‘It depends on who you are, uncle. It’s a good thing for one man and a bad thing for another’

‘Is that so! Well, I can see it’s not for us. We, men of another age, we suppose that without principes…’ […] …without principes accepted, as you put it, on faith we can’t take a single step, we can’t even breath.  Bous avez changé tout cela, so God grant you good health and the rank of general and we’ll all admire you from afar, you gentlemen – what do you call yourselves?’

‘Nihilists’ Arkady pronounced clearly” (Turgenev 23).

Turgenev uses this exchange between the “son” Arkady and the “father” Pavel Petrovich, who is really his uncle, to explain nihilism and to show the growing differences between the young and older generations.  Pavel Petrovich doesn’t think much of the way of the nihilists and brushes off Arkady’s explanation and reasoning saying it’s not for “us” meaning the “fathers”.

There are several episodes through out the novel where the generation gap between the “sons” and the “fathers” is prominently displayed:

“‘Your father is a good chap’, said Bazarov, ‘but he’s out of date, he’s sung his swansong.’ […] ‘A couple of days ago I saw him reading Pushkin,’ Bazarov was saying meanwhile. ‘Please tell him that’s no good at all. He’s not a child any longer and it’s time he gave up that childish nonsense. Fancy being a romantic at the present day! Give him something worthwhile to read’” (Turgenev 46).

This example shows that not only does Bazarov think that reading Pushkin, one of the most famous and revered authors in Russia,  is childish and below Nikolai Petrovich, but that being a romantic is not something the modern day Russian should be.  By being a nihilist, showing emotion, such as being a romantic, is an unnecessary part of life.  It’s this thinking that will cause Bazarov’s nihilist beliefs to waiver when he unexpectedly falls in love and then is rejected because his love, also influenced by nihilism, is afraid to return the affection because of the emotional turmoil love creates.

“Half an hour later Nikolai Petrovich went into the garden to his favourite arbour.  He was full of gloomy thoughts. For the first time he was clearly aware of the rift between him and his son. He has a foreboding that with each passing day it would become greater and greater.  It turned out that he’d spent days on end one winter in St. Petersburg reading away at the latest works of fiction all for nothing; all for nothing had he listened to the conversations of the young men; all for nothing had he been overjoyed when he’d succeeded in inserting his own word into their bubbling talk.  My brother says we’re in the right, he thought, and, setting aside any matter of self-esteem, I myself feel that they’re further from the truth than we are, and yet at the same time I feel they’ve got something we haven’t, some sort of superiority over us…Is it youth? No, it’s not youth by itself.  Doesn’t their superiority lie in the fact that there are fewer traces of class consciousness and privilege in them than in us?” (Turgenev 57).

Turgenev is showing the “father’s” insecurities in this passage. Nikolai Petrovich wanted to be a good father and have something to discuss with his well educated son and when the time came he found that his efforts were in vain and that his thoughts and ideas were considered old fashion by the younger generation.  He learned that the arts and literature didn’t carry the same weight with the “sons” as it did with the generation of the “fathers”.  Although Nikolai Petrovich didn’t fully agree with the thoughts and ideals of the “sons”, he felt they had something over the older generation and he felt dated and out of touch with the son who had come back from university.

“‘Yes,’ began Bazarov, ‘a man’s a strange creature.  When you squint from a distance at the dull life our honoured fathers’ live here, you think: What could be better? You eat and you drink and you know you’re behaving in the most proper, the most rational manner.  But no – the boredom of it’ll kill you.  You start to want people round, even if it’s just to swear at, but there must be people round you’” (Turgenev 127).

Here Bazarov is explaining to Arkady that the life their “fathers” lead is a dull one and although they get by well enough, the boredom of it all is not compatible with the lives that the “sons” want to lead.  They, the “sons”, need others around for conversation and entertainment and stimulation where as the “fathers” are content to putter around their property reading books and working in the gardens.

Much like Turgenev used Fathers and Sons to show the changes in the new and old generations in Russia, Futabatei believed:

“[…] that the novel was the highest form of art, and, like the Russian writers he read so avidly (Belinsky, Goncharov, and Turgenev in particular), he believed that the novelist had a duty to uncover truths unique to his time.  For Futatabei, this meant the writing of a realist novel that would portray the society he saw collapsing around him in spasms of materialism and moral paralysis” (Danly 56).

Futabatie uses Ukigumo to show the changes in the new generation of Japanese which has grown out of the Meiji era.

“The dizzying pace of change in Japan of the Meiji era provoked varied reactions.  For some, change offered liberation and personal opportunity. For some, it offered a change to achieve collective, national glory.  For others (or for these same people at other times), change meant danger, decadence, and loss of moral virtue.  Such fears broke to the surface in at least three areas of discussion and policy: fear of political disorder, fear of gender disorder, and cultural concern to answer the question, who are ‘we Japanese’?” (Gordon 111).

Several of Futabatei’s characters in Ukigumo play a part to these concerns and opportunities.   The character of Noboru, for example, whose name is translated to: to climb or to rise, is one of the people who sees the change in the Japanese society as his opportunity to climb the social ladder by kissing up to his superiors and not having a care to what’s morally right and wrong so long as it will allow him to keep moving up in the ranks of society. Noboru and Bunzo are complete opposites in this aspect. Bunzo does what he believes is the right thing to do where Noboru does what he believes will get him further in his career and with life in general.

“‘But the chief was completely in the wrong. He shouldn’t have been so overbearing. His orders were completely unreasonable.’


‘Unreasonable or not, you can’t go against a superior. After all, what was Yamaguchi? He was an underling, wasn’t he” He should have just said ‘yes’ and carried on with his work, whether he thought the orders made sense or not.  Then he would have been doing his job. But the way he acted – telling the chief what to do and all.’

‘He didn’t do anything of the kind. He just made a suggestion.’

‘Oh, now you’re defending Yamaguchi, are you? Birds of a feather’” (Futabatei 199).

Noboru is arguing with Bunzo after Bunzo and several other fellow employees have been laid off.  Bunzo thinks that his co-worker Yamaguchi has been unfairly let go from his position, where as Noboru thinks Yamaguchi is to blame for not agreeing with everything the chief and by questioning his superior’s request.  Here it is shown that Bunzo is the reasonable one who wants things to be done the right way and he wants to fight against the unfairness of the lay offs and we see Noboru defending his superior.   Even Bunzo’s aunt Omasa tells Bunzo that had be been more like Noboru then he would still have a job:

“‘You see how everything works out if you’re lucky? It’s more than luck in his case, though.  He’s clever and shrewd and he’s always alert.  I know he goes to call on the superior all the time and that must be why he didn’t lose his job.  This wouldn’t have happened to you either if you had just listened to me and played up to the chief a little.  But you never listen to anybody. Now look what’s happened.’

‘That may very well be, but I couldn’t possibly do something as disgusting as that.’

‘Don’t be so proud! That is why the chief dislikes you – because you’re so proud.  Even a man like Noboru doesn’t miss a change to get in his good graces because he’s afraid of getting fired.  You should have tried twice as hard. If you only had yourself to think about, you could afford to be superior. But you have your mother to consider’” (Futabatei 236).

Omasa argues with Bunzo that his pride has gotten in the way and that he’s let his mother down by losing his job.  She believes that had Bunzo been more like Noboru that he wouldn’t have lost his job and that in order to get ahead in life he needs to swallow his pride and do what he can to get in the good graces of his superiors.  Bunzo is a man trapped between the old and the new ways of life.  His great pride and his moral values are things that he has brought over from the old way of life before things changed with the fall of the old feudal government. Yet, he needs to adapt to the changes going on around him otherwise he will not succeed in the new Japan and it will bring disgrace to him and his family. If he does not comply with the changing ways, he will let his mother, whom is depending on him to make it in Tokyo and to bring her there, down.

Futabatei also uses Osei, Bunzo’s cousin, as a representation of the new generation of women in Japan.

“The trouble is it’s not just people who have no education.  My friends aren’t really what you’d call educated but they’ve had the usual schooling, and yet only a few of them really understand Western thought.  Even they just pay attention to liberal ideas while they’re in school. Once they’re out, they allow themselves to be dominated by their parents and they go off to their husbands’ families or marry someone adopted into their family.  I find it discouraging to think I’m the only one left who’s really liberal.  But now that I’ve made friends with you I feel much more confident about my ideas” (Futabatei 216).

The Meiji era wanted women to be educated so that they could educate their children, the “Good wife and wise mother” (Gordon 112) campaign. Osei wants to be educated and intelligent but she wants to be a liberal at the same time.  It’s not her idea to be smart so she can educate her children when she has them. She wants to be westernized and wear little make up and dress in Western fashion. Although she was intelligent and educated, she was really “a faddist by nature” (Futabatei 209).

Another Japanese author, Higuchi Ichiyo, also used her characters and her stories to tell of the changing times in Japan and how it affected the classes.  In her story Separate Ways she uses her two main characters, Okyo, a young seamstress, and Kichizo a boy who worked at the umbrella shop, to show the difference in how some people in the new era wanted to change themselves while others were content to stay in their old positions and try to keep with their old ways of living.  Kichizo had been abandoned as a child and had only gotten to his position in life by depending on the kindness of others. He feels that because he is not from a good family that he does not deserve success and that he is happy where he is in life.

“I know, that’s all. Even if someone came along and insisted on helping me, I’d still rather stay where I am. Oiling umbrellas suits me fine. I was born to wear a plain kimono with workman’s sleeves and a short band around my waist.  To me, all ‘good luck’ means is squeezing a little money from the change when I’m sent to buy persimmon juice.  If I hit a target someday, shooting arrows through a bamboo pole, that’s about all the good luck I can hope for.  But someone like you, from a good family – why, fortune will come to greet you in a carriage” (Ichiyo 289).

Kichizo believes that his background leaves him little choice of what to do with his life and he’s content to work in the umbrella shop but Okyo, being from a good family, should expect more out of her life and because of her good upbringing she should have good luck and fortune too. Okyo, on the other hand, is not content to stay where she is in life.  Although she has no problem with being friends with Kichizo, who believes he is below her in class and status, she is not happy with her own current status in life. “‘Oh dear’, Okyo sighed.  She stopped walking. ‘Kichizo, I’m sick of all this washing and sewing. Anything would be better.  I’m tired of these drab clothes. I’d like to wear a crepe kimono, too, for a change – even if it is tainted’” (Ichiyo 294).  Okyo is so unhappy where she is that she’s even willing to wear a tainted kimono, so long as it was crepe.  She’s willing to become someone’s mistress in order to get what she wants.  Kichizo wanted something good for Okyo, but he is disgusted by the way she is “selling herself” to climb the social ladder.

Futabatei and Ichiyo also modeled many of their works around the same themes as their Russian counterparts.


“The theme which Ukigumo shares in common with many Russian novels is the tragedy of separation or isolation. Sympathy, love or understanding – whatever aspect the emotion takes – is the unchanging, universal, all-pervasive force in human behavior; it is, in Futabatei’s terminology, the Idea.  Ukigumo deals with the absence of that emotion in the lives of its characters and, through the detailed analysis of Bunzo’s situation, with the pathetic confusion which accompanie such a loss. Futabatei attempted to capture the qualities which made his time different from any other by telling the story of Noboru’s success and Bunzo’s failure in the bureaucratic world; he tried to capture the Essence of life by showing how Bunzo was unable to win the sympathy and understanding of Omasa and Osei” (Ryan 189).

The absence of emotion is a prominent theme in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. “Bazarov’s nihilism falls apart in the face of human emotions, specifically his love for Anna Odintsova. His nihilism does not account for the pain that his unrequited love causes him, and this introduces a despair that he is not capable of contending with” (Fathers and Sons, themes). The character of Anna Odintsova is also lacking in emotions. She feels something for Bazarov, but bluntly rejects him when he confesses his feelings to her.  She feels terrible afterwards but then she decides she did what was best. “‘No,’ she decides at last. ‘God knows where it might have led.  You’ve got to be serious about this. Peace of mind is still the best thing on earth’” (Turgenev 104).

Turgenev also uses the theme of love as redemption so that Bazarov can transcend death. Bazarov believes in an insignificant principle which is the nihilist ideal that life is pointless and insignificant and that there is nothing after death. Bazarov meets an unhappy end when he dies of typhus. His parents go to visit his grave after his passing:

“[…] Evgeny Bazarov is buried in this grave…  To it, from the nearby village, there frequently comes a frail old couple, man and woman.  Supporting each other, they approach with a heavy step; they go up to the railing and fall down on their knees and cry long and bitterly. […] Can their prayer and their tears be fruitless? Can love, sacred, devoted love, not be all-powerful? Oh, no! No matter how passionate, sinning, rebellious is the heart hidden in the grave, the flowers growing on it look at us serenely with their innocent faces; they speak to us not only of that eternal peace, of that great peace of ‘impassive’ nature; they speak to us also of eternal reconciliation and life everlasting…”(Turgenev 201).

This passage shows that Bazarov’s parent’s loving memories of him have helped him go beyond death even though Bazarov’s nihilistic beliefs kept him from believing there was anything after death.  His parent’s love for him has redeemed his soul.

In Ichiyo’s story, A Snowy Day, the main character, Tama, believes she will also be redeemed by love.  She is in love with her teacher, but her aunt forbids her to see him saying it will bring shame upon her and the family’s name. Tama believed love would save her and her beloved teacher and that the love between her and her aunt would be strong enough to overcoming what her aunt feels is a mistake.

“When there are bonds between two people, there is love, I thought, remembering the poem.  No matter how cold or uncaring Auntie may have seemed, no matter how strict she had been with me, everything she did was for my own good. Only later did I appreciate that her efforts were more than I deserved” (Ichiyo 177).

Tama comes to realize that her aunt’s actions and the love she gave to Tama would have saved her the heartache she later endured had she only stopped and listened to her. Instead she comes to regret what she has done and her childish illusions of love have been swept away. Her aunt is no longer there for her to go back to because she has passed away; broken hearted that Tama had gone against her. Love had not redeemed Tama or her aunt.

Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment displays a theme of salvation through suffering. “A character who embodies this theme is Sofya, who maintains enough faith to guide and support Raskolnikov despite her own immense suffering” (Crime and Punishment, major themes). Although Crime and Punishment’s theme deals with the Christian form of salvation, Ichiyo’s Flowers at Dusk shows an emotional salvation. Even though Chiyo realizes her feelings of love for Ryonosuke, she cannot come out and tell him how she feels. Even up to her dying breath she does not want him to be with her and see her suffer. Her love for him is so great that she does not want him to worry about her. Chiyo feels guilty for asking Ryonosuke to leave and in her final breath she tells him: “Tomorrow – I’ll make up for chasing you away” (Ichiyo 173).  She is released from her pain of what she thinks is unrequited love when she passes away.

Through the influences of several Russian authors, Futabatei was able to create something that would change the future of modern Japanese literature.

“[…] Futabatei was able to create a novel whose plot and characterization symbolized some of the most important conflicts of his time. Ukigumo is a statement in fictional form of Futabatei’s analysis of the Meiji society.  He was never successful in putting his literary theories into written form in expository writing; his novel is the positive expression of his views, and through it and his translations of Russian fiction he influenced generations of Japanese intellectuals” (Ryan 190).

Not only did the Russian authors influence Futabatei to write about the changes going on around him in his society, but they also influenced the type of language he used, the style of writing and themes that were prominent in his work. Futabatei in turn, influenced other Japanese authors, such as Higuchi Ichiyo, to create their great works of art in a similar style. This changed Japanese literature from outdated unintelligible to the masses, to modern day classics that could be enjoyed and understood by the Japanese society as a whole.







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  1. Pingback: Where is the comparative YA lit? | Keystrokes and Word Counts

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