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Darkness Transformed: Illness in the Work of Kajii Motojirō

From: The Journal of Japanese Studies
Volume 33, Number 1, Winter 2007
pp. 67-91 | 10.1353/jjs.2007.0010


Illness is a useful metaphor to understand Kajii Motojirō's place in the intellectual context of his times. His stay at a hot-spring resort for 16 months due to tuberculosis-related problems represented a kind of quarantine from the cultural and literary center of Tokyo. On the other hand, his illness provided a form of empowerment, opening links to other socially and politically marginalized groups. He found echoes to his own literary approach in Charles Baudelaire's melancholic modernist writings. As he approached death, Kajii articulated a concept of darkness that attempted to go beyond definitions of both life and death.

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