A study of realism in Utsuho monogatari

by Herbert, Kathryn Adair

Abstract (Summary)
Restricted Item. Print thesis available in the University of Auckland Library or available through Inter-Library Loan. The tenth century tale Utsuho Monogatari occupies an unique place in the history of Japanese literature. It is the progenitor of the ch?hen monogatari genre, but even more important is its contribution to the development of realism in prose. In the extant monogatari that predate Utsuho Monogatari we can find the seeds for the flowering of realistic expression which occurs in Utsuho Monogatari. On the one hand there are the beginnings of social realism, the author's concern for the different facets of his characters' physical and social lives, and on the other traces of human or psychological realism, the author's treatment of the private and emotional aspects of his characters' existence. Utsuho Mongatari clearly reflects the duality of its literary heritage, but at the same time represents a major advancement on its predecessors. For the first time in the history of Japanese prose literature these two trends merge into a fully integrated approach towards realism that treats of man and society as complete and interconnected entities. Mirroring the author's literary development is the gradual refinement of his technical skills and the evolution of a more sophisticated stylistic approach. At first the author is bewildered by the potential of the new literary form he has chosen and weighed down by conformity to the stylistic direction of his predecessors, but slowly he comes to terms with the innovative ch?hen monogatari form and develops his own strongly individual style. The result in Part 2 of the Utsuho Monogatri is technical and literary harmony, the culmination of which is presented here in translation; namely 'Kuniyuzuri' III. This achievement was made possible by the author's own intense interest in the world he was portraying. Inspired by the Anna Plot of 969,the political scenario in Part 2 of Utsuho Monogatari represented the author's own imaginative recreation of an historical incident he himself had witnessed and in this bond between the author and his fictional world lay the key to its success. The author's penetration of the social reality, his portrait of the diversity and richness of the Heian social fabric, together with his insight into the latent forces which threatened the stability of society was an unique attempt for its time to explore the social-existential truth of realism, which insisted on the interconnectedness of the individual and society, and to give advance notice of a new age, in which the traditional morality was replaced by a more utilitarian attitude, in which man's contribution to society rather than the circumstances of his birth became the yardstick of success.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1984

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