The Frontier Within: Essays by Abe Kobo (Weatherhead Books on Asia)
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Abe Kobo (1924–1993) was one of Japan's greatest postwar writers, widely recognized for his imaginative science fiction and plays of the absurd. However, he also wrote theoretical criticism for which he is lesser known, merging literary, historical, and philosophical perspectives into keen reflections on the nature of creativity, the evolution of the human species, and an impressive range of other subjects.
Abe Kobo tackled contemporary social issues and literary theory with the depth and facility of a visionary thinker. Featuring twelve essays from his prolific career―including "Poetry and Poets (Consciousness and the Unconscious)," written in 1944, and "The Frontier Within, Part II," written in 1969―this anthology introduces English-speaking readers to Abe Kobo as critic and intellectual for the first time. Demonstrating the importance of his theoretical work to a broader understanding of his fiction―and a richer portrait of Japan's postwar imagination―Richard F. Calichman provides an incisive introduction to Abe Kobo's achievements and situates his essays historically and intellectually.
the more theory comes to be refined, the more it establishes an unprincipled relationship of dominance over perception, which thus falls into an unprincipled state of overflow. This is clearly contradictory to the principle of realism, which approaches its objects by virtue of transparency of expression through the self-awareness of knowledge. This contradiction gives rise to surrealism, for example, which adopts the laws of the subconscious as its method. Following World War I, there were major
literary theory. In contrast, what about a book that minutely described the techniques needed to ride a bicycle from an external perspective? For example: “Hold on lightly yet firmly with both hands, keeping your wrists and arms at a 135-degree angle and your elbows at a 120-degree angle. Lean away from the frame of the bicycle and apply your body weight as variable to the following numerical formula. Rest your left foot on the pedal while using your right foot to strongly kick off from the
words, the writer must be someone who is able to hear such words from the reader. Although the writer is produced within and by the reader through his demand, the reader never allows the writer to become more or less similar to himself. Rather, the reader demands that the writer be a true expert. Stalin described writers as technicians of the soul. Doesn’t this aptly express what readers demand? Writers must be technicians of the soul rather than merely technicians of prose. Fictional techniques
people who believe that these drills are useful, but that is incorrect. There is also the question of reading. It is quite stupid to have a student read and interpret something. Students can interpret if you leave them alone; this is not something that can be taught. There is absolutely no need to memorize such things as correct Chinese characters and correct interpretations. What is needed is the talent to make leaps. The ability to make leaps in thought involves leaping away from certain
ethnic particularity of “‘little’ Jews” to universality as an awakened member of the Communist Party.8 Yet the gradual emergence of the “socialist hero” is in no way limited to Jewish citizens. It is part of the powerful demand in socialist realism with regard to all literary characters. Choseed’s point here is acceptable, however, for this trend is very different from depicting Jews as spies. What is problematic about the paper is that it treats only works written before 1945. In truth, my