Kenzaburo Oe, Junichi Watanabe, and Haruki Murakami can be called the three great masters of contemporary Japanese literature. Under the impact of the torrent of literary consumption, they have always adhered to the position of serious literature. Although the writing styles of the three great masters are different, they focus on the same themes. They all write about the living conditions and mental states of people in contemporary society, they all explore the meaning of death, and they all extend their brushstrokes to the past. Transsexual realm, etc. These undoubtedly represent the development trend of contemporary Japanese literature.
Concern for people’s living
conditions After World War II, Japan’s economy has experienced great development. With the improvement of economic level, people’s lives have been improved. However, after the improvement of material living standards, people’s spiritual life has become more and more empty. Moreover, the progress of industrialization and the development of science and technology have brought great damage to the living environment of human beings, and cast a heavy shadow on the psychology of the Japanese. Writers living in the contemporary era are especially keenly aware of these problems, so they use their works to truly express the living conditions of modern people.
Haruki Murakami is known as the “standard bearer of literature in the 1980s” and is also known as the representative of urban writers. Known for his youthful sentimentality, his novels have won the love of contemporary Japanese youth. Murakami’s “natural and smooth brushstrokes” reflect a certain phenomenon among young people in modern cities: they are eager to be loved and communicated with others, but they can only return to a more lonely self after repeated efforts and attempts. in the world. They are lost, they are sad, they can’t even find themselves.
This feeling of loneliness, helplessness, and loss is clearly shown in “Dance! Dance! Dance!”: “People worship the vitality of capital, worship its mythological color, worship Tokyo land prices, and worship the sparkling ‘Mercedes-Benz’ cars. In addition, there is no myth in this world. This is the so-called highly developed capitalist society. Whether we are happy or not, we must live in such a society. … This is now. The era is like quicksand, and the position we stand is not where we stand.” “The younger generation has completely despaired of the era and society, and the only thing left is the lingering sense of loss, weightlessness, Disillusionment, only helpless loneliness and sadness.”
If Haruki Murakami focuses on reflecting the living conditions of urban young people, then Watanabe Junichi focuses on expressing the living conditions of middle-aged and elderly people in urban areas. When people reach middle age, their youth is gone. Some middle-aged and elderly people living in modern cities, facing the ever-accelerating pace of life, increasingly intense work pressure and increasingly fierce social competition, feel more and more powerless, so they began to There is an inexplicable fear of being eliminated by society and of losing self-worth. At the same time, due to the unsatisfactory family life and the alienation and deterioration of the relationship with colleagues, middle-aged and elderly people, like young people, have a dark cloud of loneliness, loneliness, and emptiness in their hearts. In order to resolve this loneliness and boredom, the protagonists of Watanabe’s novels, almost without exception, are hopelessly trapped in the quagmire of extramarital affairs. Here, Watanabe uses the story of extramarital affairs to show readers the loneliness, fear and despair of some middle-aged and elderly people in the modern city.
Compared with Haruki Murakami and Junichi Watanabe, Kenzaburo Oe went further in paying attention to people’s living conditions. Dajiang’s works not only care about the plight of the young generation after the war, but also worry about the deterioration of the entire human living environment. In “Our Times”, Oe writes: “Today we are surrounded by only doubt and distrust, arrogance and insult. . things.” “We know suicide is the only act, and nothing can stop us. But we don’t have the courage to jump for it. So we have to live, love and hate, sex, political campaigns, Homosexuals go to murder and gain fame… This is our era. It can be seen that the living conditions of the post-war youth generation can no longer be described by words such as “depression” and “unrest”. This is a kind of cowardice, despair, Helpless survival.
The three contemporary masters spared no effort to express their concern for the living conditions of people in modern society in their works, and also aroused readers to think about this issue and explore a way out. This cannot but be said to be one of the most important aspects of contemporary Japanese literature. Development trend.
The search for the meaning of death
Contemporary Japanese literature not only pays attention to the living conditions of human beings, but also expresses the theme of death in large numbers. Perhaps only after thinking about death and its meaning can we deepen our understanding of the meaning of life. Open the history of Japanese literature, we will find that many writers in the second half of the 20th century wrote about death. Their works are either shrouded in a gloomy atmosphere of death, or detailed descriptions of tragic or glamorous death scenes. Through colorful death scenes, writers explore the meaning of death. The search for the meaning of death has constituted another trend of contemporary Japanese literature.
Just as there are differences in the understanding of the meaning of life, writers also have very different understandings of the meaning of death. Watanabe regards death as a solution to the predicament of existence, a way of fixing the frame of sincerity, love and beauty; Murakami regards death as a part of life and a continuation of life; Oe regards death as the opposite of life and existence, It is a deprivation of the right to freedom of life.
Having seen too many deaths as a surgeon, Watanabe writes about death frequently in his novels. Watanabe’s handling of death is very peculiar, and some commented that Watanabe’s novels have formed a unique “death aesthetics”: using a well-designed perfect death to surpass the daily mediocrity, pain, and embarrassment of death, let life live in beautiful death Gain dignity; pursue youth, art and love with a well-designed death, let them gain eternity, let the beautiful death emit a meaning and brilliance far beyond death itself, and let life find its destination and eternity in the well-designed death . The protagonists of Watanabe’s novels generally choose suicide when they cannot bear the pressure of survival. They all carefully design their own deaths and try to maintain a perfect posture after death.
In “Shadowless Lamp”, Naoe, as a doctor, could not bear to be exposed to the embarrassment and embarrassment of being tortured by illness in the hospital like an ordinary patient, and sank his body at the bottom of the quiet and beautiful Lake Shikotsu; , Junko, a girl painter, calmly chose death because she felt that her artistic life had come to an end. She wanted to use death to freeze the most beautiful youth into eternity.
Murakami’s handling of death is equally peculiar. He does not describe the scene of death as meticulously as Watanabe, and he does not even give readers the slightest hint of the death of the characters in the novel. In “The Forest of Power”, Naoko and her sister, uncle, Midoriko’s father and mother, Watanabe’s good friend Kiyuki, and Nagasawa’s lover Hatsumi all chose to commit suicide, but for the deaths of all these characters, Murakami They didn’t make a big deal of it, but just understated it. Even the deaths of important characters Kiyuki, Naoko, and Hatsumi were just a brushstroke, which inevitably made us feel abrupt and unacceptable when reading, so that we doubted whether we had missed reading. what. Murakami wrote the death of the characters extremely plain and calm. In his works, death is as common as eating, drinking and listening to music. In fact, Murakami has such an attitude towards death. He believes that there is no need to explain anything about the death of a character. From birth to death is a natural process. Life is the prelude to death, and death is the continuation of life. There is no clear boundary between death and death, and there is no need for any transition, as he repeatedly emphasized in “The Forest of Wei”: “Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of life.”
In Oe’s writings , death is not as cold and glamorous as Watanabe’s death, nor as bland and calm as Murakami’s death. Dajiang believes that death and life are absolutely inseparable, and death is the opposite of life. “As a living individual, the primary free choice is the right to ‘life’, while ‘death’, the opposite of ‘life’, is eternal. Absurdity is the greatest tragedy of life.”
In “Luxury of the Dead”, “I” saw a corpse soaked in medicinal liquid and had this thought: “I think that’s what it is, death is a ‘thing’. However, we can only capture death at the level of consciousness. After consciousness ends, death as a ‘thing’ begins.” In Oe’s view, when life ends, consciousness also dies, and the remaining corpse is just a ‘thing’ “Null
The shell has no value. Dajiang cannot see the “beauty of death”. What he feels is the sadness and cruelty of the human soul after it dies with life.
Death is a very profound theme. Under the leadership of the three great masters, contemporary Japanese literature is actively exploring the meaning of death, which will inevitably deepen the thinking and understanding of the meaning of life.
Exploring the realm of sexuality
”The last half of the 20th century left the literary adventurers with nothing but the realm of sexuality” is a famous quote by American writer Norman Mailer. It is no longer new, but it was the famous saying at the time. It has aroused the resonance of many writers, and they have practiced the field of sexuality in the literary world. Japanese writers have also been obviously influenced. The theme of sex is quite common in contemporary Japanese literature. Oe, Watanabe and Murakami have all set foot in the field of sex to varying degrees, which also represents a development trend of contemporary Japanese literature. .
For serious literary writers, dabbling in the field of sexuality cannot but be said to be an adventure. However, it turns out that contemporary Japanese writers did not just blindly cater to the kitsch psychology of low taste, but maintained a seriousness. They endowed the sexual behavior with rich social meaning, enabling people to reflect on society after reading it. There are various problems in the book, and can ponder the complex meaning that the author assigns to them. In the works of the three great masters, the descriptions of sex all have intriguing and profound meanings.
Sex in Murakami’s works has become a way for the lonely and bored young generation to resolve their confusion and repressed emotions. For example, in “The Forest of Power”, Yongze, who has a gentle and elegant girlfriend Hatsumi by his side, still goes to the bar to pick up girls and then goes to bed. Although he claims that this kind of sex is boring, he still does the same boring thing. things; however, those who truly love are always farther away from sex. Murakami may have made this arrangement intentionally, because the meaning he gave to sex is: a way for young people to vent their depression and loneliness, and the more important thing for young people who are truly in love should be spiritual communication and exchange, which is emotional and spiritual. getting along well.
In Watanabe’s literature, sex is presented in a harmonious and beautiful manner. Eros, in Watanabe’s eyes, is beauty in a natural state, and it contains rich meanings. Watanabe believes that sex is the most perfect way for people in love to express their feelings. The union of the body is even better than the union of the spirit. The deepening of emotion depends on the union of the body. When the hero and heroine fall in love, they cannot extricate themselves from lingering. in sex. At the same time, harmonious sex is also a passive resistance to social morality and ethics that cannot accept their extramarital relationship. They truly love each other, but they cannot be understood by their relatives and friends. In order to escape the condemnation of those around them, they choose uncontrolled sex life to show resistance.
Beginning with “Our Times”, Oe has written extensively about sex in his works. However, the sex in Dajiang’s pen has almost no sacred and sublime beauty, but a synonym of vulgarity and evil. In the essay “
Because there is no simple writing Rather, it combines sex with the protagonist’s thoughts, spirits, and feelings for description and expression. Serious literature writers maintain a noble attitude, making sex a serious act. In contemporary Japanese literary circles, sex It has been more and more concerned and explored by writers.
To sum up, although the consumption of Japanese literature is increasing in today’s increasingly developed economy, Kenzaburo Oe, Junichi Watanabe, and Haruki Murakami have always adhered to the position of serious literature, and they are well-deserved contemporary Japanese literature. representative figure. They are all actively concerned about the state of human existence in modern society, exploring the meaning of death and exploring the realm of sex. These commonalities of the three major literatures represent the development trend of contemporary Japanese literature. In a sense, these trends of contemporary Japanese literature are not only specific and national, but also universal and universal.