Maruyama Lectures Occasional Papers

Two Lectures by Kenzaburo Oe, April 1999

Occasional Papers

On Politics and Literature
Maruyama Lecture & Seminar 1999
Townsend Center Occasional Papers 18

Lecture: The Language of Masao Maruyama

Novelist and Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe inaugurated the Maruyama Lecture Series by considering the challenge of representing Japan's past century with new forms of language and thought. Oe has long been known for his ability to create new worlds of words that convey powerfully the trauma of Japan's historical experience. He shows how Maruyama sought as well to redefine language for the postwar period that espoused a democracy realized new forms of human expression. In so doing, Maruyama was creating a new form of prose that introduced into Japanese the "stylistic sensibilities" of foreign languages.

Click here for an excerpt from Kenzaburo Oe's lecture.


Seminar: From the Beginning to the Present, and Facing the End: The Case of One Japanese Writer

Is a novelist someone who writes about what he or she knows? Kenzaburo Oe poses this question as he recounts his first exposure to American literature and the impact it had on his own thoughts about death. By focusing on Ernest Hemingway's attempts to write about this most unknowable of human experiences, Oe illustrates the difficulty and importance of knowing something well enough to write about it.