Kyoka

“Kyoka (Izumi Kyoka, 1873-1939) Japanese fiction writer and playwright, known for his many tales of the bizarre, grotesque, and supernatural. One of the most distinctive Japanese stylists, Kyoka rejected the modernist trends of Meiji literary movements such as shizenshugi, which promoted a tedious confessionalism, and sought inspiration in traditional motifs and sources. His work thus recalls the nativism of Ueda Akinari and foreshadows the neotraditionalist writing of Tanizaki Jun’ichiro. The unorthodox quality of Kyoka’s writing has also been seen as symptomatic of a well-documented psychopathology, including  mother fixation and assorted obsessive-compulsive disorders.

One of Japan’s greatest authors, Kyoka has been little translated—in part owing to his notoriously difficult, labyrinthine prose style. Translations include the short stories Koya hijiri (1900; tr The Saint of Mount Koya, 1956) and Sannin mekura no hanashi (1912; tr A Tale of Three Who Were Blind, 1956). Kyoka was also a playwright, and many of his works were performed for the popular Shimpa stage.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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