This paper analyzes the impact of Chinese culture on Japanese modern writer Mori Ōgai (actual name Mori Rintarō, 1862-1922), regarded by some as one of the prominent writers of the Meiji period (1868- 1912); the dissertation focuses on presenting and commenting a set of diverse texts which reveal Ōgai’s interest in Chinese culture. Traditionally, Ōgai’s literature is associated with Western thought and ideals, though most critics do recognize the kanbun (classical chinese) training he received as a young man of letter as a matter of some relevance for the development of his style of prose; reconsidering the impact of Ōgai’s early training in the Chinese classics, however, is by no means the only source accounting for the subtle, yet overall considerable influence of Chinese literary themes in his mature years as a writer of fiction. It is in his late works, then, that one has to search for his growing reputation as a sinophile. Is it possible to open a new perspective over Ōgaii’s interest in Chinese culture presenting several examples of the Chinese sources he read and employed in shaping his own literary tastes. Ōgai also contributed to gradually change the way in which Meiji literati would judge the value of literary works, and influenced favourably the process of rediscovery of forgotten Chinese and Japanese works of the past with his own critical thought, thoroughly working towards broadening his knowledge of Chinese and Japanese literature, along with the study of Western fonts. In this respect, translation excerpts provided in the appendix should be of help in clarifying how Ōgai’s outlook on Chinese literature changed over time, to the point that he developed a more mature approach to the study of Chinese culture, and Chinese language itself. The material commented includes forums such as Hyoshinryo Iroku (‘Scattered Recordings on Notable Works’, recorded ca. 1895 onwards), transcribed and printed on literary magazines, and two concrete examples revealing how his knowledge of the Chinese language and culture enabled Ōgai to derive literary themes and techniques from Chinese fiction. These are the short stories Yasui Fujin (‘The Wife of Yasui’ 1914), and Gyogenki (‘Yu Xuanji’, 1915).
“A Meiji Writer's outlook on Chinese Literature: the case of Mori Ogai” / Milasi, Luca. - In: PHOENIX. - STAMPA. - 2(2009), pp. 253-291.