What Is Modernity

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Yoshimi Takeuchi was born October 2nd, 1910 in Nagano Prefecture and died, March 3rd, 1977 due to the esophageal cancer. He was a Sinologist, a cultural critic and translator of Chinese. He mainly studied the Chinese author, Lu Xun, which included most of Lu Xun’s works. He achieved the great accomplishment of translating them into Japanese. One of the great examples of his study is the book, Lu Xun published in 1944. It ignited a significant reaction in the world of Japanese thought during and after the Pacific War. Takeuchi formed a highly successful Chinese literature study group with Taijun Takeda in 1934 when he was a university student. This was regarded as the beginning of modern Sinology in Japan. It was in 1931 that Takeuchi first met his long-lasting friend, Taijun Takeda at Tokyo Imperial University. They then went on to forming the Chinese Literature Research Society. In 1935, they published an official organ for the group, namely, Chugoku Bungaku Geppo in order to open up the study of contemporary Chinese literature as opposed to the "old-style" Japanese Sinology. However in January 1943, he disbanded the Chinese Literature Research Society, despite the group becoming quite successful. While he was in China, he saw the real state of living in China that impressed him deeply, it was completely different from what he hand thought of, or studied of before. It is how he threw himself into a study of the modern colloquial language and his maiden work, the book-length study Lu Xun. One of his essays, ‘What is modernity?’ became popular, as a result, gained great public attention in 1948 during the Japanese occupation. It is from such an essay that his status as an important postwar critic was gradually acknowledged. After 1949, he was greatly moved by the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC). He continued to refer to the PRC in his articles and books. In 1953, he became a fulltime professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University. A post he eventually resigned from in protest at the abuses of parliamentary voting procedures, during the period of civil unrest and protest. Which had arisen while the ratification of the revised Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan in May of 1960. During the struggle, he led the movement as one of the foremost thinkers in post-war Japan under the slogan, "democracy or dictatorship". From 1963, he argued in favor of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution until the diplomatic normalization between Japan and the PRC in 1972. He was particularly interested in Mao's "Philosophy of base/ground" which involves the principle of making one's enemy one's own. For Takeuchi, this was similar to Lu Xun's notion of endurance and resistance. In his later years, Takeuchi devoted himself to doing a new translation of Lu Xun's works. In short, the life and achievement he had been through his entire life left his name to be a famous and distinguished critic of Sino-Japanese issues and his complete works were published during 1980-82 to the public. In 1948, after returning from China and publishing the influential book on the Chinese leftist writer Lu Xun, Takeuchi Yoshimi developed a provocative account of modern Japanese culture in his influential essay called ‘What is Modernity?.’ ‘What is Modernity?’ presents six different essays dealing with the matters of qualifying and comparing forms of Asian resistance and or capitulation to modernization. The intriguing content about the book, What is modernity?, is that Takeuchi drew a profound comparison between Japan and China by examining the period of Post-World War II in Japan. He appraised the value of Japanese Modernity contrasting with Chinese Modernity. He sharply criticized Japanese modernity describing its modernity as merely the unconditional conformity to Western imperialism. In ‘What is modernity?’ Takeuchi stated: "Ultranationalism and Japanism were once fashionable. These were to have...
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