June the 1st is one of those days that are marked & highlighted with the largest crayon from my colouring box. The reason for this degree of interest is that this is the opening date of what has, over the years, become one of my favourite challenges,by someone who is not only a favourite supporter of literature, but also a friend & constant source of inspiration. June the 1st is Japanese Challenge (#6) day, run by the wonderful Bellezza and in anticipation I’ve been stockpiling a few posts since the previous one closed, here are the ones so far accumulated…
In Praise of Shadows is an essay on aesthetics by one of my favourite Japanese writers, it was originally published in 1933, with the English translation coming out in 1977. This is a tiny book of less than fifty pages, containing a foreword and an afterword, making the essay itself only forty-two pages long, which means it can be read in one sitting, although that would be defeating the point of it, this should be savoured, this book should be read and re-read, should be immersed in.
This book started as a serialization in the magazine Shincho (Shinchosha Publishing Co, Ltd) in January 1965. Masuji Ibuse used historical records and the diaries of survivors to reconstruct the experience of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
In the introduction to this anthology John L. Apostolou, gives us a brief history of this genre in Japan, some of which I’ve used here. He the goes on to say that apart from a few exceptions, before this book it was nigh on impossible to find Japanese Science Fiction, making this anthology most peoples first encounter with Japanese SF.
Also as part of this challenge, I intend to post on the history of post war Japanese poetry, also on Haiku (history & art of), plus a selection of writers that I’ve been compiling, hoarding & gathering in readiness.