The “Literature of the Catastrophe” as a Canon: From Genbaku Bungaku to Fukushima Bungaku


The literary responses to Fukushima disaster appeared in the last few years highlighted the similarities with Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience as long as both tragedies were caused by an arguable usage of nuclear power. What is remarkable, is that a seismically active area like Japan subjected to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions ever since, has not ever taken a stand on the 'literature of the catastrophe' as a genre itself. While the literature about Shoah got a foothold as Holocaust novel, the Japanese genbaku bungaku was instead refused by the bundan and by hibakusha themselves sounding a critical note for the literary value of the testimonial accounts. Nowadays, the increasing number of post-Fukushima literary works brought to the fore the need to reconsider the traditional literary canon to revalue a genre, the one regarding catastrophe, which especially in Japan found literary expressions since the dawn of time: Kamo no Chomei, Terada Torahiko, Akutagawa Ryunosuke are just a few of the authors concerned about disasters that occurred in the country and the necessary efforts to overcome them. This brief research provides an excursus of the critical debate concerning the relation between literature and canon (Segre, Bachtin) to define the literary genre of the catastrophe. On the one hand, it underlines the continuity of genbaku bungaku themes, on the other hand, it reveals the innovative character of the newborn Fukushima bungaku in terms of representing the trauma not only in poetic, fictional forms but also on social media.

Author Information
Veronica De Pieri, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Paper Information
Conference: IICJ2016
Stream: Japanese Art & Literature

This paper is part of the IICJ2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon