Authors who were active in the Taisho era

Many authors are listed in the digital exhibition “Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures.” In this section, let us briefly introduce some authors who were active mainly in the Taisho era (1912-1926).

In the literary world of the Taisho era, works of romanticist literature were published, replacing the works of naturalists. YOSANO Akiko, NAGAI Kafu, TANIZAKI Jun’ichiro, and authors in Shirakaba-ha (the White Birch School), such as SHIGA Naoya and MUSHANOKOJI Saneatsu, or ones in Shinshicho-ha (the New Thoughts School), such as AKUTAGAWA Ryunosuke, KUME Masao and KIKUCHI Kan, were active.

Naturalist author SHIMAZAKI Toson wrote his masterpiece Ie, in which he depicted the protagonist as a young man from a rural area who suffered from the feudalistic family system. In contract, romanticists such as NAGAI or TANIZAKI published works of art for art’s sake set in the luxuriant cities of the Taisho era. In contrast to the gloomy works of naturalism, authors of the Shirakaba-ha presented literature based on total self-affirmation. SHIGA in particular was called “the God of Novels” for his clear and excellent writings, which were highly evaluated by KOBAYASHI Hideo, a renowned literary critic. The Shinshicho-ha consisted of writers who had their start in the literary magazine Shinshicho (published by Tokyo Imperial University students), and they were known for producing fiction based on elaborate concepts with subjects taken from sources including classics.

Representative works by authors introduced in this section can be read in the NDL Digital Collections via the link on each author’s page. We hope this introduction will help you to read the works of modern Japanese authors.


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