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Transformations of Sensibility
The Phenomenology of Meiji Literature
by Kamei Hideo, Hokkaido University, translated, edited & introduced by Michael Bourdaghs, University of California, Los Angeles

Available in English translation for the first time, Transformations of Sensibility is a monumental publication on the literary history of Japan, one that deliberately challenges conventional wisdom about the rise of modern Japanese literature. This book, first published in Japan in 1983 and now a classic in modern Japanese literature studies, covers an astonishing range of texts from the Meiji period (1868–1912) and offers highly original close readings of works by such writers as Futabatei Shimei, Tsubouchi Shoyo, Higuchi Ichiyo, and Izumi Kyoka, as well as writers previously ignored by most scholars.

It also presents sophisticated analyses of the ways that experiments in literary language produced multiple new—and sometimes revolutionary—forms of sensibility and subjectivity. Along the way, Kamei Hideo carries on an extended debate with Western theorists such as Saussure, Bakhtin, and Lotman, as well as with such contemporary Japanese critics as Karatani Kojin and Noguchi Takehiko. In doing so Kamei provides a new critical theorization of the relationship between language and sensibility, one that links the specificity of Meiji literature to broader concerns that transcend the field of Japanese literary studies. This English edition incorporates a new preface by the author and an introduction by the translation editor that explain the theoretical and historical contexts in which the work first appeared.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 40
Published 2002, 373 pp.
ISBN 1 929280 12 2, hardback, £40.00