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So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers (Asia Perspectives: History, Society & Culture S.) – Donald Keene

Posted on July 10th, 2010 by in Biography, Non-Fiction, War

In So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers (Asia Perspectives: History, Society & Culture S.) author Donald Keene weaves archival materials together with personal reflections and intimate accounts producing an entirely original portrait of wartime attitudes and foreign domination in Japan.

Japan’s involvement in World War II and the Greater East Asia War provoked a range of reactions from its citizens. Pride, rage, sympathy, revenge& mdash;a single year of triumph and three of catastrophic loss forced the Japanese to question their country’s presumption and its ability to shape history and the world. Falling to the will of the Allied powers further complicated Japan’s postwar recovery, imprinting feelings of shame, resentment, doubt, and self-recrimination onto the national psyche.No writers better captured these fluctuations than a group of well known authors who risked recording their thoughts amid the bombings and fear of invasion.

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Nagai Kafu, Takami Jun, Ito Sei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Yamada Futaro, and the scholar Watanabe Kazuo wrote absorbing narratives, passionate polemics, and crystalline poems. Donald Keene, a leading Japanese scholar, samples from their texts, some of which were written by individuals he knew well. His own relationship with this material adds a compelling layer to his work. The diary of Ito Sei, for example, with its fervent patriotism and racial claims, forms a stark contrast with the soft-spoken, kindly man Keene knew. Whether detailed or fragmentary, these diary entries were written for future generations, making clear the danger of false victory and true defeat.

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