Life after Death? Writing the Alienated Self in Post-war Japan


Author: Mark Williams, Akita International University, Japan
Email: [email protected]
Published: September 2013

Citation: Williams, M. (2013). Life after Death? Writing the Alienated Self in Post-war Japan. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 2(2).


This paper represents an attempt to consider how artists in general — and Japanese post-war novelists in particular — deal with traumatic experience and how this process is reflected in their subsequent literary texts. More specifically, it will consider how two Japanese immediate post-war authors, Shimao Toshio (1917–86) and Shiina Rinzō (1911–73) — neither of whom saw active experience at the front but who both emerged, by their own admission, heavily traumatized from their experiences of the period—tackled the issue of depicting in their literary texts their wartime experiences and their subsequent attempts to return to "normal" life in the immediate aftermath of war. The literary process whereby they first "act out" and subsequently "work through" their particular traumatic experiences will be examined — and, in so doing, their oeuvres will be presented as ongoing, collaborative projects aimed at more fully "constituting" certain traumatic events in cognitive, affective and ethical terms.


Shimao Toshio, Shiina Rinzō, trauma, Asia-Pacific War