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Encyclopedia > Kenzaburo Oe
Kenzaburo Oe
Kenzaburo Oe

Kenzaburo Oe (大江 健三郎 Ōe Kenzaburō?, born January 31, 1935) is a major figure in contemporary Japanese literature. His works, strongly influenced by French and American literature and literary theory, engage with political, social and philosophical issues including nuclear weapons, social non-conformism and existentialism. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994. Image File history File linksMetadata Kenzaburo_Oe. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Kenzaburo_Oe. ... January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Japanese literature spans a period of almost two millennia. ... Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement that is generally considered a study that pursues meaning in existence and seeks value for the existing individual. ... The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words of Alfred Nobel, produced the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency. The work in this case generally refers to an authors work as a whole, not to any individual... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal. // Events January Bill Clinton January 1 : North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect. ...



Oe was born in Ōse (大瀬村 Ōse-mura?), a village now in Uchiko, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. He was one of seven children, whose father died when Oe was nine. At eighteen he began to study French literature at the University of Tokyo, where he wrote his dissertation on the work of Jean-Paul Sartre. He began publishing stories in 1957 while still a student, strongly influenced by contemporary writing in France and the United States. Uchiko (内子町; -cho) is a town located in Kita District, Ehime, Japan. ... Ehime agency Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県; Ehime-ken) is a prefecture in northwestern Shikoku, Japan. ... French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak other traditional non-French languages. ... The University of Tokyo (東京大学; Tōkyō Daigaku, abbreviated as 東大 Tōdai) is one of the leading research universities in Japan. ... Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (IPA: or or ) (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic. ...

He married in February of 1960, and later that year met Mao on a trip to China. He went to Russia and Europe the following year, visiting Sartre in Paris. Mao could refer to: Mao Zedong, (Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles) leader of the Communist Party of China from 1935 to 1976. ...

Oe now lives in Tokyo. He has three children; the eldest son, Hikari, has been brain-damaged since his birth in 1963, and his disability has been a recurring motif in Oe's writings since then. Tokyo , literally eastern capital) is the capital of Japan and one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. ... Oe Hikari (大江 光) (1963-) is a Japanese composer who has autism. ...


Oe's output falls into a series of groups, successively dealing with different themes. After his first student works set in his own university milieu, in the late 1950s he produced several works (such as Prize Catch and Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids) focussing on young children living in Arcadian transformations of Oe's own rural Shikoku childhood.[1] He later identified these child figures as belonging to the 'child god' archetype of Jung and Kerényi: one which is characterised by abandonment, hermaphrodism, invincibility, and association with beginning and end.[2] The first two characteristics are present in these early stories, while the latter two features come to the fore in the 'idiot boy' stories which appeared after the birth of Hikari.[3] Arcadia is a poetical name for fantasy land (having more or less the same notation as Utopia ), named after the Greek land. ... Shikoku (四国, four provinces) is the smallest and least populous (4,141,955 as of 2005) of the four main islands of Japan. ... The child archetype is portrayed in literature in various ways. ... An archetype is an idealized model of a person, object or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned or emulated. ... Carl Jungs autobiographical work Memories , Dreams and Reflections, Fontana edition Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) (IPA:) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. ... One of the founders of modern studies in Greek mythology, Karl (Carl, Károly) Kerényi (January 19, 1897 - April 14, 1973) was born in Timisoara, then in Hungary, to a family of some landed property. ... In zoology, a hermaphrodite is a species that contains both male and female sexual organs at some point during their lives. ...

Between 1958 and 1961 Oe published a series of works incorporating sexual metaphors for the occupation of Japan. He summarised the common theme of these stories as, "the relationship of a foreigner as the big power [Z], a Japanese who is more or less placed in a humiliating position [X], and, sandwiched between the two, the third party [Y] (sometimes a prostitute who caters only to foreigners or an interpreter)".[4] In each of these works, the Japanese X is inactive, failing to take the initiative to resolve the situation and showing no psychological or spiritual development.[5] The graphically sexual nature of this group of stories prompted a critical outcry; Oe said of the culmination of the series, Our Times, "I personally like this novel [because] I do not think I will ever write another novel which is filled only with sexual words".[6]

Oe's next phase did move away from the earlier sexual content, shifting this time towards the violent fringes of society. The works which he published between 1961 and 1964 are influenced by existentialism and picaresque literature, populated with more or less criminal rogues and anti-heroes whose position on the fringes of society allows them to make pointed criticisms of it.[7] Existentialism is a philosophical movement that is generally considered a study that pursues meaning in existence and seeks value for the existing individual. ... The picaresque novel (Spanish: picaresco, from pícaro, for rogue or rascal) is a popular style of novel that originated in Spain and flourished in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and has continued to influence modern literature. ... In literature and film, an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers. ...

Hikari was a strong influence on Father, Where are you Going?, Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness, and The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away, three novels which rework the same premise — the father of a disabled son attempts to recreate the life of his own father, who shut himself away and died. The protagonist's ignorance of his father is compared to his son's inability to understand him; the lack of information about his father's story makes the task impossible to complete, but capable of endless repetition, and, "repetition becomes the fabric of the stories".[8] Cover of the US edition. ...

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness introduces 'Mori' as a name for the 'idiot-son' (Oe's own term); 'Mori' means both 'to die' and 'idiocy' in Latin, and 'forest' in Japanese. This association between the disabled boy and the forest recurs in later works such as The Waters Are Come in unto My Soul and M/T and the narrative about the marvels of the forest. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language. ... M/T and the narrative about the marvels of the forest (M/Tと森のフシギの物語) is a novel by Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, published in 1986. ...


Works translated into English

  • Lavish Are The Dead (死者の奢り, Shisha no ogori, 1957)
  • Someone Else's Feet (他人の足, Tanin no ashi, 1957)
  • Prize Stock (Shiiku, 1957, also translated as The Catch)
  • Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (芽むしり仔撃ち, Memushiri kōchi, 1958)
  • Seventeen (セヴンティーン, Sevuntiin, 1961)
  • A Personal Matter (個人的な体験, Kojinteki na taiken, 1964)
  • Aghwee the Sky Monster (空の怪物アグイー, Sora no kaibutsu Aguii, 1964)
  • Hiroshima Notes (ヒロシマ・ノート, Hiroshima nōto, 1965)
  • The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away (みずから我が涙をぬぐいたまう日; Mizukara waga namida o nuguitamau hi, 1972)
  • The Silent Cry (万延元年のフットボール, Man'en gan'nen no futtobōru, 1967)
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (我らの狂気を生き延びる道を教えよ, Warera no kyōki wo ikinobiru michi wo oshieyo, 1969)
  • The Pinch Runner Memorandum (ピンチランナー調書, Pinchi ran'naa chōsho, 1976)
  • Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! (新しい人よ、眼ざめよ, Atarashii hito yo mezameyo, 1983)
  • ed: The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath (1984)
  • Japan's Dual Identity: A Writer's Dilemma (1988)
  • An Echo of Heaven (人生の親戚, Jinsei no shinseki, 1989)
  • A Quiet Life (静かな生活, Shizuka na seikatsu, 1990)
  • Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself: The Nobel Prize Speech and Other Lectures (曖昧な日本の私, Aimai na Nihon no watashi, 1995)
  • A Healing Family (恢復する家族, Kaifukusuru kazoku, 1995)
  • Somersault (宙返り, Chūgaeri, 1999)

A Personal Matter (個人的な体験, Kojinteki na taiken) is a novel by Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe (大江 健三郎 Ōe Kenzaburō). ... Aghwee The Sky Monster (空の怪物アグイー, Sora no kaibutsu Aguii) is a short story by the Nobel Prize winning Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe. ... Cover of the US edition. ... Cover of the 1998 UK edition. ... The Pinchrunner Memorandum is a 1976 novel by a Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe. ... Rouse Up, O Young Men of the New Age! (新しい人よ、眼ざめよ; Atarashii hito yo mezameyo) is a 1983 semi-autobiographical novel by Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, about his day-to-day life with his mentally handicapped son, Hikari (represented by an alter ego called Eeyore) and the effect that William...

Works not translated into English

M/T and the narrative about the marvels of the forest (M/Tと森のフシギの物語) is a novel by Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe, published in 1986. ...


  1. ^ Wilson, The Marginal World of Oe Kenzaburo: A Study in Themes and Techniques p. 12. M E Sharpe (1986).
  2. ^ Oe, The Method of a Novel p. 197.
  3. ^ Wilson p. 135.
  4. ^ Oe, Supplement No. 3 to Oe Kenzaburo Zensakuhin, Vol. 2, Series I, p. 16.
  5. ^ Wilson p. 32.
  6. ^ Quoted in Wilson, p. 29.
  7. ^ Wilson p. 47.
  8. ^ Wilson p. 61.

External links

  • Nobel e-Museum Biography
  • Nobel Laureate page
  • Biography and booklist
  • with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today



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