The literary legacies of World War II have been mixed and varied, especially in West Germany and Japan, where the burden of defeat has been expressed by novelists and intellectuals in strikingly different ways. Reflecting the cultural differences between the two nations, and the experiences of occupation and democratization that occurred after the war, the postwar literatures of Germany and Japan intimately reveal the hopes and aspirations, the dreams and the nightmares, of two peoples confronting the harsh realities of war.
Using a comparative approach, Ambiguous Legacies explores the conditions and values under which the postwar literatures of West Germany and Japan were created. Specifically, the book assesses the meaning of the German and Japanese literary responses to the World War II: the tendencies of denial or silence by German writers, the fatalism and passivity of Japanese novels, and the importance of the past in defining the recent "New subjectivism" among German writers and the outpourings of the "Introverted Generation" by Japanese novelists. Ernestine Schlant's introduction sets the context for the individual chapters and offers guideposts for further comparative scholarship. The book also includes a useful annotated bibliography and suggestions for further reading.
The contributors are: Arnulf Baring, Carol Gluck, Walter Hinderer, Iremela Hijiya Kirschnereit, Peter Demetz, Marlene J. Mayo, J. Victor Koschmann, Judith Ryan, Van C. Gessel, Dagmar Barnouw, Kato Schuichi, Oda Makoto, and Peter Schneider.
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Ernestine Schlant is professor of German and comparative literature at Montclair State College in New Jersey. Thomas Rimer is chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.
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