On the influence of Dostoevsky by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (father of the Japanese short story)

In the first half of the XVII century, the Japanese government, for fear of the development of relations with European countries and the spread of Christianity, has issued a decree that banned the entry of foreigners in Japan and the Japanese people travel abroad under penalty of death. Japan for a long time was "closed" country.
However, the policy of "self-isolation" ultimately did not pay off. In the second half of the XIX century, the ruling class of Japan has decided to make a revolution from above. In 1868, the shogun (military-feudal ruler) gave political power to the emperor, who for centuries (from XIII century) was a nominal head of state. The feudal system was abolished, Japan has the capitalist path of development. This revolution in Japanese is called the Meiji isin (or, as they call this event in Russian, the Meiji Revolution).

Classic Japanese literature Akutagawa Ryunosuke (Akutagava Ryunoske, 1892 — 1927) was born only 40 years after this important historical event for the country as Japan has already taken the first steps toward rapprochement with the West, to the transformation of the little-known West of the country into a world power. Akutagawa lived in a period of searching in Japanese literature, when the traditional and the new is blended, then diverged to opposite poles. There was a large number of groups, movements, trends, many of which were based only on the western cultural tradition, ignoring national, while others, on the contrary, encouraged to return to the roots, to the classics, seeing it as a source of renewal. Japanese young people are keen on Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain, opening to them a lot of new and interesting. For beginners Japanese writers always the danger become imitators, to dissolve in Western culture. Unfortunately, with many that is exactly what happened — in the period under review have been created many imitative in relation to works of Western literature. However, Akutagawa was standing on the opposite tack. Rightfully it can be called the founder of modern Japanese literature. Akutagawa's great credit that can be considered, which is largely thanks to him that the Japanese literature joined the stream of the world. And he succeeded in that, first of all, just because he was able to merge the national and international, which determined the quantum leap of modern Japanese literature.

     Russian literature has had a huge impact on the work of Akutagawa and the entire Japanese literature in general. Perhaps we can rightly say that Russian literature was for the Akutagawa (and Japanese society of the time), even more important than in Western Europe. In the preface to the Russian edition of his short stories, unfortunately, has not seen the light, he wrote: "Among all the modern foreign literature is not one that would have on Japanese writers and even more for Japanese readers layers of the same effect as a Russian. Even young people are not familiar with Japanese classics, he knows the works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov. This alone is enough to make it clear how we Japanese, Russian close … The fact that the modern Japanese literature experienced the tremendous impact of modern Russian literature, due no doubt to the fact that the modern world literature as a whole experienced the tremendous impact of modern Russian literature. But even more important problem is that the explanation for this, I think, to be found in the similarity of Russian and Japanese characters. My brief introduction … but it was written by a Japanese, who considers your Natasha and Sonya, our sisters "[2, 312].
The Japanese had a great influence Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov. 
Dostoevsky's work was very significant for the Japanese literature. K.Reho notes that "… the establishment of a realistic novel that defined the path of the new literature of Japan, was not without serious influence FM Dostoevsky "[5, 162]. 

On the shock, otherwise it will not name, his experiences when he first read Dostoevsky, Akutagawa says so in a letter from Fujioka Dzoroku 5.09.1913g. "… After returning to Tokyo, he lived he did not know how. Read "Crime and Punishment". All 450 pages of the novel are full of descriptions of the characters state of mind. But the development of activities to do with their mental state, their internal relationships. Therefore, in the novel there is no plastic. (It seems to me that a drawback of the novel). But the inner world of the protagonist, Raskolnikov, there is an even more terrible force. The scene where the killer Raskolnikov and Sonia Public woman under a lamp burning in yellow smoky flame, read the Scripture (John — head of the resurrection of Lazarus) — the scene of immense power, it is impossible to forget. I first read Dostoevsky, and he grabbed me, but the English translation is small, and therefore I have not, unfortunately, able to read his other works "[found in: 4, 160 — 161]. 
30.10.1917g. Akutagawa in a letter Matsuoka Yurzuru shares his impressions: "I'm reading now" Demons ". To "Karamazov" falls short, but still dragged me (the end of the second part) "[2, 445]. Just how popular was Dostoevsky in Japan, according to the line of the letter Akutagawa Tsuneto Ke (March, 1914), "Sato-kun reading Flaubert and Dostoevsky" [2, 372]. As evidence of Dostoevsky's popularity can be seen and the following passage from his autobiographical novel "Statement in those years" (1919): "When you came, he did not read that" The Brothers Karamazov ", not something else, left corner to the table brazier for heating Foot "[1, 479]. In the short story "Monkey" (1916), tells the story of the ship's exposing the thief — the signalman, all of which the ship was called a monkey, there are not just the mention of the Russian writer, but also a reference to his writings: "Narasima immediately put in solitary confinement, and the next day sent to the military prison at Uraga. Do not want to talk about it, but there prisoners are often forced to "pull the core." This means that they have to spend days dragged from place to place iron balls weighing nineteen pounds. So, if we talk about the suffering, the more painful it is nothing for the prisoners. I remember that Dostoevsky's "House of the Dead," which you once gave me to read, states that if a prisoner get a lot of time to pour the water from the tub in the tub from this useless job he'll kill himself. And as the prisoners there really is such a busy work, it remains a surprise that none of them is suicide "[1, 104 — 105].

"House of the Dead" are also mentioned in the novel "half of his life Dajdodzi Sinske» («Daydodzi Sinske hansey»): «Sinske hated school. Especially high school, where it so oppressed … There he had to learn a lot of unnecessary information: Dates of the history of the countries of Western Europe, the chemical formulas derived without any experiments, the number of residents of the largest cities in Europe and America. Of course, at a certain voltage to memorize all this was not difficult. But it was hard to forget that this knowledge is not needed. In the "House of the Dead" Dostoevsky said that prisoners are willing to strangle when they are forced to engage in pointless labor, such as transfusion of water from one tub to another, and from the other in the first. The gray school building, tree very tall poplars Sinske experienced the same anguish as those prisoners "[cited in: 4, 16 — 17].
"Gossamer» («Kumo-no ito», 1918) — the story of how the Buddha gave the opportunity to escape from the underworld terrible sinner, villain and a murderer because he once made a good deed — spared the spider. Villain Kandat almost got out of hell from the sky on run-flat silver gossamer, but then I saw that he was climbing up the other sinners. He became a chase them, and gossamer snapped. This Buddhist legends not — invented it himself Akutagawa. Japanese literary and our researcher VS Grivnin believe that this story was inspired by an episode of "The Brothers Karamazov" (Part III, Chapter 3) — "nice fable" onion who Grushenka about that one-prezlyuschaya feisty woman filed once a beggar. This is something a little onion and stretched babe guardian angel to pull it out of the flames of hell. Researchers believe that not only the plot, but the imagery and the idea that self-interest — a terrible evil and that as long as the person is subject to this evil, he is doomed to eternal hell, the Japanese writer borrowed from Russian [3, 661, 4, 130 — 131]. With all the credibility of this comparison is still very doubtful that legitimately compare the finished work with a part of the other. 
Akutagawa attitude to Dostoevsky directly expressed in the "Words Pygmy» («Syudzyu-no kotoba», 1923 — 1926): "Dostoevsky's novels abound cartoons. However, the majority of them would plunge into depression devil himself "[2, 33].
The influence of Russian classics to Japanese can be traced to the example of the novella "The gears» («Haguruma», 1927). This person monologue consisting treated in a psychiatric hospital, convinced that he was "one of those behind the crimes committed in Hell" [2, 387]. In the story there is an episode when this man talks to the old man, a Christian believer of God and the devil, light and darkness. At the end of the conversation the old man's hero became interested in books. "Strong precocious old man turned to the bookshelf, and his face appeared a pastoral expression.
— Collected works of Dostoevsky. "Crime and Punishment" have you read?
Of course, I loved Dostoevsky ten years ago. And impressed by chance (?) Dropped by the owner of the words "Crime and Punishment" I took it from him a book and went to his hotel "[2, 395]. Not casually talk about Dostoevsky came after a conversation about God, not by chance, and references to it "Crime and Punishment", as the hero of Akutagawa takes everything that happens to him as punishment for his crimes. Back at the hotel, the hero began to read Dostoevsky, but found that the booklet mistakenly sewed in "Crime and Punishment" chapter of "The Brothers Karamazov" — the head of Ivan, who was tormented by unclean. He is tormented by "Ivan, Strindberg, Maupassant or myself in this room …" [2, 398]. That's why the hero of hell in my head.

However, it should be emphasized that the Akutagawa knew that blind imitation of other nationalities the writer, even if such a great, like Dostoevsky, can bring positive results if we neglect their own national traditions. In different cultures, of course, there are things that contradict each other. Thinking about this in the short story "Handkerchief» («Hanketi», 1916), that sets the theme of "East — West". Professor, University of Tokyo reading Strindberg and Wilde, is married to an American, I love everything Japanese, admiring the Gifu lantern (a special type of Japanese lantern egg-shaped, is named after the location where the original lights are only manufactured), talks about the bushido (the system of morals and norms of behavior of Japanese military class in feudal times), finding in this teaching not only specifically Japanese, but something brings him closer to the spirit of Christianity in Europe and America. He "has long wanted to take over, so to speak, as a bridge between the East and the West" [1, 107]. His visits the mother of one of his students, who died recently. A woman strikes the reader his composure, because she lost her only son a week ago, does not cry, quietly supports small talk. And the professor could not help comparing it with the restrained behavior struck him in the period of study in Berlin "for his unusual perception of impulsiveness in terms of feelings" [1, 111], although surprised that she is not crying, and at the same time approve of her courage. The only expression of grief mother was that she tore the handkerchief. And just a half a page after the described scene occurs again Strindberg: "In the time of my youth talked a lot about the handkerchief Mrs. Heiberg, it seems Parisian. It was a welcome double play, lies in the fact that smiling face, hands, she tore the handkerchief … Now we call it bad taste … "[1, 113]. Thus, the fact that every Japanese is a model of behavior for the European theater is just a bad reception. So not too arrogant professor had dreams?
Akutagawa not only admired by Dostoevsky, but also tried to use the achievements of Russian classics in their own work. And it was not a mechanical drawing, and a deep insight into the ideas of Dostoevsky.

Surovceva Ekaterina


SQL - 16 | 0,423 сек. | 6.97 МБ