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A Wife in Musashino
by ‘oka ShŰhei, translated with a postscript by Dennis Washburn

‘oka ShŰhei was one of the most distinctive literary voices of Japanís postwar era. A prolific writer who received numerous awards, he also was an active translator of French literature and was recognized as an important critic and editor. ‘oka is best known for his works that detail his experiences as a Japanese soldier in World War II, and a number of his contemporaries, including the novelists Mishima Yukio and ‘e KenzaburŰ, have placed him among the ranks of the finest artists of modern Japanese literature. 

A Wife in Musashino, published in Japanese in 1950, was a major critical and commercial success, and was quickly adapted to the screen by the director Mizoguchi Kenji in 1951. Composed simultaneously with portions of ‘okaís great war novel, Fires on the Plain, A Wife in Musashino recounts the story of the ill-fated love between a young demobilized soldier, Tsutomu, and his married cousin, Michiko. The impact on ‘oka of French writers such as Stendhal and Radiguet is apparent not only in his finely detailed observations of human emotions, but also in his trenchant critique of social customs and conventions. The novelís depiction of the motivations and circumstances of its characters and its subtle portrait of class conflict and family tensions bring the tumultuous Japanese postwar period to life, revealing with rich insight the impact of the war on Japanese society and on individual lives.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies University of Michigan
Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies No. 51 
Published 2005, 168 pp.
ISBN 1 929280 28 9, hardback, £25.00