Today I will be introducing several literary anthologies, specifically complete collected editions, zenshū in Japanese, and those that purport to be the complete works – a problematic phrase in and of itself – of individual authors, or kojin zenshū. Before delving into the specific content of my case studies, I’d like to briefly introduce the broader topic of anthologies and authorship, their inception in the late Meiji period (or turn of the 20th century), the topic’s significance for Japanese literary history, and a little about how I came to study these anthologies.
So-called “complete” literary anthologies, including those of individual authors, are now ubiquitous in Japanese studies and serve as key access points to literature that might otherwise not be available, and often isn’t available in other formats at all without consulting rare, out-of-print books or even magazines and newspapers. Complete editions have implications for the study of Japanese literature in several ways – establishing authorial identity, influencing our concept of authorship itself, and working to create a canon of contemporary Japanese authors. These are often treated as transparent reference sources, and are used widely in academic research; however, they are truly opaque and demand to be questioned due to their phenomenal influence on our understanding of Japanese literary history.
I first came to this topic as a graduate student, and it became the basis of my dissertation research and now book manuscript project. Nearly all of the work that we read in our literature seminars came from some type of complete edition, often that of an individual author, and we depended on them almost exclusively for access to those works. This is especially the case because my seminars often focused on Meiji and Taisho literature not reprinted elsewhere, and otherwise available only by consulting rare books or even original newspaper serializations. I noticed that in the case of several works that we read, the work found in the anthology had been heavily revised since its original publication, yet was still attributed to the original publication year as though it was the version that had been read by readers at the time. For example, the famous novel Miyamoto Musashi, by Yoshikawa Eiji, was revised to change its sometimes nationalistic tone from the 1930s to the version published in the 1940s, which is now the version included in his Complete Works and other reprints of the novel. So we have a substantially different novel that is quite different from the original publication, and reading only the revised version gives a skewed picture of what reception of the novel would have been like by the readers of the first edition in the 30s.
These differences in versions, and the fact that we rely so heavily on the anthologies almost without question, led me to wonder more about them. Where did they come from, and how did they come to exert such an influence on our study of Japanese literature? When did they begin as a genre, when did they become so pervasive, and were early anthologies any different from those reference works that we find now?
In fact, the history of modern complete editions is relatively recent, starting only in the 1890s, but also quite complex. The first modern complete editions were not the same kind of academic reference work that we are familiar with today; they lack the annotations and substantial reference material about the works and author that contemporary academic anthologies contain, although they do all include prefaces and afterwards. Yet those prefaces focus on something other than the writer him- or herself – they focus on the loss of the author, and the editors’ and publishers’ experience of the author’s death and their memories of the author. For these anthologies are more memorial objects than anything, published in the immediate wake of the author’s death and compiled in memory of the author, thus surrounded by a discourse of loss and death when they were compiled and edited. They also emphasize social connections between the editors and authors, and were compiled by specific social groups associated with the author. Thus, they serve a distinct social memory function as well. This is not to say that memorialization was the only impetus for compiling complete editions; they were mass-produced objects, a way for publishers to capitalize on the deaths of famous authors, and turned the author into a kind of commodity. They were for popular consumption, not academic reference books, and thus a way for publishers to make money as well as for individual readers to possess the author in a way. But today, I’ll be focusing on these complete editions as a kind of homage to the authors, as archives of memory, mourning, and memorialization.
Of course, these modern complete editions didn’t come out of nowhere. I’ll begin my presentation by introducing two precursors to the type of modern complete edition that I’m talking about today. They were both very much in the awareness of readers, writers, and publishers in the late 19th century, and thus provide an important context for understanding the impetus for modern complete editions. In fact, I argue that the first complete editions partially belong to the genre of one of these precursors: memorial collections.
Memorial collections, literally “posthumous manuscript collections” or ikōshū in Japanese, are found since at least the 1600s – one example is the collection created by author Ihara Saikaku’s disciples in the wake of his death. They were created by followers of an individual, usually a Confucian philosopher or government official but also authors and poets, after their deaths. These generally aren’t complete collections, but they contain things like unpublished manuscripts, samples of calligraphy, and poems in honor of the deceased. They actually take their inspiration and example from China, where there is a long tradition of creating collections after an individual’s death, either by disciples or family members. However, these are a little different from the later complete editions that I’ll be talking about because they’re not purported to be “complete” – completeness isn’t a trope involved here – and they usually weren’t mass produced, or published immediately after an author’s death. In fact, earlier ones may not have been published for sale at all, and were generally extremely short. The modern complete edition serves a similar function and is compiled in a similar way, but is a consumer item, mass-produced for a wide audience.
The second precursor I’ve identified is the boom in collected editions in the United States and England in the 19th century, at the time when Japanese writers were beginning to import and read more Western works, as well as in some cases, traveling to the West. I’ve found that these collections were something that would have been purchased by Japanese readers, because they provided a convenient and often cheap way to buy Western literature. In fact, in an article published in the magazine Kokumin no tomo that asked different figures for their book recommendations, many of them listed the Works of certain Western authors. This suggests that even if they didn’t own a volume of Works themselves, they were at least aware of this phenomenon and could conceive of a coherent body of work that defines, and is defined by, the author, just as in the complete editions that I’m talking about here, and that that phenomenon was identified as specifically Western. Again, though, these 19th-century collected editions are different from Japanese complete editions in that they weren’t necessarily purported to be “complete” and were often published during the author’s lifetime, rather than after his or her death. They generally don’t serve the same kind of memorial function, and play a somewhat different role in establishing authorial identity and canonization.
So we can see here that the precursors to modern complete editions are quite international, and span regional boundaries. Modern Japanese complete editions were a unique and novel genre at the turn of the 20th century, but were informed greatly by trends and phenomena taking place both elsewhere in Asia and in the West at the time and through history. Here, I’d like to show a few examples of ikōshū printed in the Meiji period that I’ve found. As you can see, they’re quite different in character, especially the later ones, from this mass-produced anthology of Charles Dickens’s Christmas stories.
The anthologies of Kitamura Tōkoku and Higuchi Ichiyō, which I will examine here today, attempt the very practical task of collecting a body of work, and they simultaneously delineate and define an authorial identity through that pseudo-archive. They demonstrate a deep personal connection to the subject on the part of the editors, and a drive to both legitimize the authors and, if successful, those who advocate for their canonization. Yet in addition to these aspects, the anthologies of a recently-deceased writer – a social contemporary of the compilers, editors, publishers, and readers – create a kind of memorial object, one that serves as a way to mourn the passing of a colleague and friend while at the same time reinforcing the composition of a social group and the inclusion of the individual as a member. This presentation will explore the social function of the mid-Meiji anthology as well as the archival, and consider the first anthologies of Higuchi Ichiyō and Kitamura Tōkoku as pioneers and models for anthology construction from the mid-1890s onward, as well as a continuation of the tradition of ikōshū.
First, I will introduce the two authors whose anthologies I’ll be talking about today. I’ll begin with Higuchi Ichiyō, who died in 1896 of tuberculosis at the age of 24, and her death was generally recognized as a major tragedy. She spent her adult life in harsh economic circumstances, adding to the air of tragedy surrounding her and her fiction as expressed by her editors. She began her writing career as a poet and a diarist – although her poetry is excluded from her early anthologies entirely, and her diary was only published posthumously in 1912 – and as a poetry teacher, receiving a strong education in the classics. During her lifetime, and even now, she was known as a master of the short story, and all of her published work was in this genre. Because she died young, her body of published work is relatively small, but she was already praised during her lifetime and soon after as one of the great Meiji writers. Now, she is so much a part of the canon that she’s found on the 5,000-yen bill in Japan.
Kitamura Tōkoku, a poet and essayist, also died young and suddenly, of suicide at the age of 26, in 1894. Thus, like Ichiyō, he has a certain air of tragedy that surrounds his death and this is expressed strongly in eulogies published in his coterie magazine, Bungakkai, and also in his anthologies. He had a career as a Christian and political activist, and began his writing in earnest in the women’s magazine Jogaku zasshi, which promoted women’s education. He then spun off the Bungakkai magazine and coterie from this publication, even entitling the first issue Jogaku zasshi Bungakkai, so there is a strong connection between the promotion of women’s writing and early Bungakkai issues, even though it never really panned out. Tōkoku also had a particularly famous debate with critic Yamaji Aizan that raged in the publications of the time, although they had quite a close friendship outside of the print world. Tōkoku’s published body of work, too, is not very large in comparison to someone whose career may have been longer, but he wrote for a number of years, and as we’ll see in a few minutes, his first complete edition contained a huge amount of archival and unpublished material, thus expanding his body of work posthumously to a great degree.
Memory and Anthologies
Now, I would like to move on to the anthologies that I will analyze in detail today: The Complete Works of Ichiyō and The Works and Complete Works of Tōkoku. First, I’ll introduce the anthologies themselves as books – as objects – and then move on to talking about their relationship to archives and social memory.
I’ll begin by talking about Higuchi Ichiyō’s Complete Works. Her first anthology – the first modern complete edition of a contemporary literary writer that I’ve been able to identify – was published, remarkably, only a few months after her death. She died in November 1896 and it was first published in January 1897. Even Ichiyō’s illness was announced in the newspaper, and her death was followed by eulogies in a variety of publications, so the discourse surrounding the publication of her first anthology was very much one of loss and death and mourning, as well as fame. In fact, the editor of Bungakkai magazine wonders aloud in his obituary of Ichiyō whether “the efforts of these men [who are compiling her anthology] will be enough to console the spirits of the deceased.” The sense of loss was particularly great among her fans, and this was probably tied in to the purchasing of her Complete Works – it was so popular that it went through more than 30 reprintings before its second edition in 1912, and so it was a great way for her publisher Hakubunkan to capitalize on her death. Their investment in the production of this book really paid off, because her fame grew so much after her death, in part because her works were finally available in book form. During her lifetime, her works were only published in magazines and newspapers that would have been thrown away every month or every day, and so without reprinting in an anthology, we might not even have her works preserved for us today. But more important, the anthology made her works widely accessible to readers by mass producing them in book format, and also kept her name before readers, thus increasing her fame and fan base posthumously – and enabling, perhaps even guaranteeing, her subsequent canonization.
However, the commodification and canonization of this author through the mass production of her works is not the only function of her first complete edition, and the book is remarkable in its focus on loss and mourning in its preface, as it works to construct an authorial identity for Ichiyō. Thus, we can think of it as a kind of “complete” ikōshū. In the preface, her publisher and editor Ōhashi Otowa, the head of Hakubunkan, spends more time talking about himself than about Ichiyō. He talks about the construction of the book and the way he compiled and edited it; then he goes on to talk about Ichiyō but only through the lens of his personal experiences of her. His memories are vivid and filled with sadness at his loss. Here is a quote from his memories of her and her death:
… just a few months before she took ill, she was turning out manuscripts in truly wretched economic circumstances, with each word mournful and each phrase heartrending; superb writing that will truly prove everlasting. During this period I saw her a number of times and we became quite familiar, and I was struck by her ambitions; she had known only a little of half a career and yet she had earned the great admiration of others. At that time, I took a wife and studied poetry with her; after that, my wife often became ill and I became quite busy. I wasn’t able to see her very often. On November 25, 1896, she finally succumbed to her illness and she suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. She was 26 at the time of her death. I heard news of her death and when I rushed to knock upon her gate, I smelled the smoke of incense... Ah! I would never have a chance to speak with her again.
Here, Ichiyō’s authorial identity is very much tied up with one individual’s experience of her death, and with the tragedy of her suffering during her lifetime, in poverty and sickness. Thus, she is transformed from a famed short story writer into a suffering, tragic figure, who died far too young and left behind grieving colleagues who seek to do her honor by editing a volume of her stories. Otowa even writes that he hopes the fine watercolor illustrations and calligraphy on the cover of the book will live up to the splendor of the stories found within.
Ichiyō’s anthology is not the only one created in explicit mourning of an individual author, and Kitamura Tōkoku’s own 1894 memorial collection and 1902 complete edition themselves engage in remarkable memorialization of a group’s deceased leader and friend. The 1894 edition was a limited compilation of pieces by that appeared shortly after his death. This small anthology was followed in 1902 by a larger edition, The Complete Works of Tōkoku. The history of these editions raises the question of the role that anthologies played in mourning the dead, and their crucial role in Tōkoku’s posthumous reconfiguration as an author, while serving a double function as memorial objects for a social and literary group mourning the death of its most prominent member. Moreover, as I’ll show in a minute, they work to associate Tōkoku as an author with a certain kind of tragedy, that of the suffering idealist whose melancholy was ultimately connected with his young death.
Tōkoku’s memorial collection stands out because it was one of the first of its kind that brought together works by a contemporary Meiji writer immediately after his death, unlike older ikōshū that tended to follow deaths by at least a few years, and sometimes covered historical figures. Yet it was a trend in the 1890s to start publishing memorial editions immediately after the author’s death, as we saw in the previous slides, and this is visible early on in the case of Tōkoku’s, published only a few months after he died. It was compiled by his surviving friends and even published by the coterie magazine that he headed during his lifetime, limiting it in circulation and to a specific social group that knew Tōkoku personally. In fact, in its advertisements in that same coterie magazine, Bungakkai, it is explained that it’s intended for friends to enjoy reading, implying that it’s meant for that social group alone, a group that is allowed to mourn Tōkoku as a close colleague. Perhaps it excludes others, those who aren’t the friends of Tōkoku who would take pleasure in reading the works and remembering their own experiences of him through doing so. It’s also like older ikōshū in that it was published by Bungakkai itself, a small press, for a small circle of people – those who would remember Tōkoku personally or through reading the magazine.
This memorial collection was followed several years later, in 1902, by Tōkoku’s Complete Works, clearly influenced by the existence of Ichiyō’s own Complete Works, which I in turn suspect was directly influenced by the publication of other memorial editions like Tōkoku’s, as well as that dedicated to woman author Wakamatsu Shizuko, published at the same time as Ichiyō’s complete edition. The idea of memorial collections was very much in the awareness of editors and writers at the time, as we can see from the continued publishing of ikōshū up to the end of the Meiji period. Yet The Complete Works of Tōkoku stands out even among this field of memorial collections, in its sheer focus on the experiences of the bereaved friends of Tōkoku during his lifetime, of his suicide, and of mourning him both immediately after his death and in the years after. In fact, it contains 28 pages of prefaces that speak to the authors’ experiences of Tōkoku, their memories of him, and their extreme sadness at his death – how it impacted them even years later. The 28-page prefaces to the 1902 Complete Works, in which several major literary figures focus on mourning their friend’s passing and giving meaning to his life just as much as they comment on his works themselves, testifies to the cathartic and commemorative function of the anthology. For example, Hirata Tokuboku writes in his essay “Mourning My Deceased Friend”:
Mr. Sen’u, Mr. Kitamura Tōkoku, the sound of his noble spirit is in my ears even now. His figure in a lone struggle is still in my eyes. That is the strangeness of death. I cannot truly believe that he is gone. What is this silence, the tragedy of a death like his? What is this loneliness, the harshness of a death like his? And the dwindling feeling of him still overflows in my eyes. The sorrowful feeling of him overflows in my eyes. This is the strangeness of death. I cannot truly believe that he is gone.
Later, in the same preface, he continues, this time emphasizing both Tōkoku’s literary identity and the tragedy of his death:
In the gentle rain of a spring night, a lone poet considers by himself his bitterness, moving the brush only a little in writing the record of a short life: I have met the misfortune of mourning my dear friend. Surrounded by fog and reciting poetry into the wind, he who wandered far and wide like the wing of a cicada, one morning leaving an intermittent voice and a solitary figure leaving its impression like the darkness of a leaf in smoke – it’s so terribly sad.
Author and prominent Bungakkai member Shimazaki Tōson similarly stresses his vivid recollections of Tōkoku, this time triggered by a reading of Tōkoku’s unfinished work that Tōson found in his study, and he also characterizes Tōkoku specifically as a suffering poet, a tragic and idealistic figure.
I took and collected Mr. Kitamura Tōkoku’s tossed out works on scrap paper, piled high, from his study, preserving them in a corner of my bookshelf. One day I took them down from the shelf, dusted them off, and went to read them. I recalled my departed friend so vividly that it was as if he appeared before my eyes, and I fell into feelings of reminiscence that I could not bear.
Immediately after taking out the manuscripts, Tōson recollects what kind of man Tōkoku was: a “gentleman who loved gallantry and took pleasure in righteousness … a poet whose exterior was relaxed, but inside was melancholy … [and] a natural scholar and spirited critic.” Here, Tōson seems to be both reading into Tōkoku’s manuscripts these characteristics that he uses to define his friend’s essential character, and also perhaps reading the melancholy, idealistic themes he finds in the works back into Tōkoku’s identity as an author and as a man. His thoughts quickly turn to mourning:
I can never forget him … my close friend for whom my feelings run so deep. [...] Every time I look through my departed friend’s notes, I cannot bear thinking of the suffering of today’s poets.
For anyone familiar with the circumstances of Tōkoku’s life and death, Tōson’s allusion to suffering poets could not but suggest but Tōkoku’s own suffering as a sensitive idealist – as just the sort of man that the prefaces endeavor to portray. Tōson here sets up this association and also readers’ expectations of what they will find in the Complete Works; just as the readers encounter in the anthology the same manuscripts that Tōkoku left unfinished, perhaps they too will find their thoughts turning to the painful nobility of poets that Tōson paints so vividly in his account of preserving, collecting, reprinting, and re-reading.
We find a similar thread in The Complete Works of Ichiyō, as in the quote from Otowa where he refers to Ichiyō’s suffering, writing, and poetry in the same breath. I’ll address this in a moment, but here, both Ichiyō and Tōkoku are suffering authors, writing in the face of adversity, producing beautiful work despite, or rather perhaps because of, their difficult economic and emotional circumstances.
Notably, the prefaces do not include Tōkoku’s life outside of Bungakkai, and in particular, his life as a Christian and political activist; these aspects of his life would also have led to his suffering, but here, it is only the sensitivity of the idealist poet that causes Tōkoku pain. For Tōson here, Tōkoku should be remembered entirely as a literary figure, one who is defined by – and defines – his own work, and is taken out of his political context entirely. Moreover, even his work with Jogaku zasshi, the women’s magazine that he wrote for before founding Bungakkai, is not mentioned – nor is his major 1889 political, free-form poem, The Prisoner’s Poem – an innovative experiment in so-called “new-form poetry” that was being practiced at the time, and is in fact included in the anthology. Instead, we have only the Tōkoku that can be associated with Bungakkai itself as a social and literary group, and thus this contributes a certain group context to his authorial identity. Even more surprising, it contains no mention of Tōkoku’s major debate with critic Yamaji Aizan, and excludes Aizan’s own eulogistic essay on Tōkoku that was published in the newspaper after his death, despite the fact that some of the prefaces are reprinted from Bungakkai essays written just after Tōkoku died. One would think that Aizan’s debate and eulogy would be just as important to include as a part of creating a whole, complete Tōkoku, but it’s as though this aspect of Tōkoku’s career as a critic simply never existed, and that his close friendship with Aizan had never been a part of his lived life.
I’m going to return now to the Complete Works of Ichiyō, because there is something similar going on in that preface, and also because there is an interesting connection to Bungakkai. Despite her extraordinarily short career of only several years, she published a large number of works in Bungakkai, which just like Jogaku zasshi, was supposed to be woman-oriented and include works by women, although it largely failed in that respect. Ichiyō was the exception to this, and published in nearly every issue from the third until her death in 1897. Thus, we can see that her career is closely tied to this coterie and its magazine, and it is through this venue that many of her readers would have first encountered even some of her most famous works, such as Takekurabe, although some were later co-printed or reprinted in the higher circulation magazines from Hakubunkan and thus reached a wider audience there. What is remarkable about the preface to Ichiyō’s complete edition is that while it focuses largely on her publishing history, it doesn’t make a single mention of Bungakkai at all. The only allusion to that coterie is a thanks to one of its leaders, Hoshino Tenchi, for giving over the work he’d been collecting for his own version of Ichiyō’s anthology in the wake of her death. There were thus two competing anthologies even immediately after her death, and we can imagine that a smaller anthology published by a coterie magazine, rather than a purported “complete” edition published by the biggest publisher of the Meiji period, would have had a very different impact on our memory and perception of, even access to, Ichiyō as an author. One other major problem for Bungakkai would have been negotiating for Ichiyō’s copyrights, without Ōhashi Otowa’s connections as a major publisher and the funds available to his large publishing company. In any case, Otowa retrieved the material from Tenchi and compiled his own anthology, with no more mention of the Bungakkai coterie’s involvement in Ichiyō’s career.
By depending on this anthology for an introduction to Ichiyō, not only does the reader get the distinct impression of the tragedy of her life – just as with Tōkoku – and Otowa’s self-importance in establishing a relationship to her, but also gets the impression that Ichiyō published almost exclusively with Hakubunkan and had no involvement in a coterie focused on Romanticism. Her association with Tōkoku, coincidentally, is revealed clearly from looking at their publishing histories, but from referring to the prefaces of the complete editions – where Tōkoku’s makes no mention of Ichiyō either – a reader would never know of their close publishing relationship. Instead, Ichiyō is inseparably associated with the Tokyo literary elite that knew Otowa, as he specifically thanks a few of them by name for helping with the overseeing of the anthology, including famed novelists Mori Ōgai and Kōda Rohan. So there is a group aspect to Ichiyō’s memory as well: she is part of the bundan social group, the biggest elite names in the literary world of the time, and not associated with the more minor Bungakkai coterie – nor with her time studying and then teaching at a poetry school to get by. Her only appearance as a poet or poetry teacher is in relationship to Hakubunkan editor himself. Through emphasizing personal experiences as well as social and professional connections, these anthologies construct a picture of a literary field with a distinct membership that both includes and is partly defined by the individual being anthologized – and plays a crucial role in constructing their authorial identities for posterity. Now, I will move on to discussing the bodies of work preserved by these social groups in the complete editions, and the implications for an authorial identity defined by, and defining, those so-called “complete” bodies of work.
From Scraps to Poetry
After Tōkoku and Ichiyō’s deaths, their bodies of work should theoretically remain static. Yet this is far from the case: Tōkoku’s memorial and complete editions differ greatly in their contents, with the Complete Works containing a large number of previously unpublished material. Ichiyō’s first two anthologies, too, differ in that her second anthology also contains a huge amount of archival material. Consequently, even after their deaths, their identities as authors continued to shift, mutually defined by and defining what came to be agreed upon as their authoritative oeuvres. Through providing copies in book format of that which may otherwise disappear along with the ephemeral sources in which they were previously recorded, both Tōkoku’s and Ichiyō’s anthologies demonstrate the power of editors in limiting and shaping what is possible to interpret as an author’s identity through the construction of a body of work. In the case of both authors, their works appeared almost exclusively in periodicals, and often in coterie journals with limited print runs and audience; they were thus in immediate danger of disappearing permanently even soon after their initial publication. With these fragile bodies of work as their source material, the Complete Works of Ichiyō and Tōkoku – as well as Tōkoku’s earlier ikōshū – played a significant role by determining, through preservation, the possibilities of interpretation for not just these authors, but for Japanese literature itself more broadly. Here, I will turn to the aspect of the creation of an archive – or, as I’ll refer to in a moment, an anti-archive – in memory of an author, in creating that author’s very identity, and our collective memory of that author.
With anthologies of contemporary authors’ purported “complete works” – here, Meiji authors, in the 1890s – we might expect that that those works would be relatively easy to obtain, and their compilation relatively straightforward; in other words, that the anthologies would contain a collection of recently published works that had not yet gone out of print. Yet it is surprising to find that the case is more similar to that of an earlier author, whose works might have been nearly lost to time, rather than that of writers with works still circulating in book form. The key factor here is that their works appeared in ephemeral publications – magazines and newspapers – and often in those that were coterie journals with lower circulation and fewer readers, or in variety magazines that readers would have thrown out after each weekly edition. Both Ichiyō’s and Tōkoku’s works had the potential for vanishing from the public eye just as easily as an obscure Edo writer’s might have.
As reprints, then, anthologies of these authors’ “complete” bodies of work played a more literal role than the editors may have anticipated: they would become the new access points for their works, and through this become authoritative sources. The anthologies, while not necessarily containing all of the works that Tōkoku and Ichiyō ever wrote (and thus not “complete”) would become the only reliable sources for their works, and the boundaries of the anthologies would become the new boundaries of the author’s body of work itself. Because of their status as the only editions of their works in book form, these anthologies would by default achieve primacy over the original, ephemeral editions, and would become the bodies of work that not just did persist over time, but could in the first place. This is not to say that these initial anthologies persistently dictated the full body of Ichiyō’s and Tōkoku’s work, as scholars undertaking archival research would expand the range of surviving works accessible through later anthologies, but they established a core group of works for each that would be able to persist where ephemera could not. While these anthologies’ contents would not always dictate the limits of an author’s oeuvre, they established for a time what would not be lost.
A side note: A key historical factor here is the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, which caused widespread fires in Tokyo and Yokohama that burned much of the cities. This event would have made the ephemeral sources in which the work of both of these authors were originally published even more scarce, and increased later dependence on reprints in other volumes and limited facsimile editions of coterie magazines.
Now, I will first turn to Ichiyō and Tōkoku’s anthologies as a case of preservation and archival construction, and then to their changing contents and implications for their authorial identities amidst their memorializing prefaces, afterwards, and covers – in other words, their paratexts.
The editors of Tōkoku’s 1902 anthology of “complete works” are explicit in preservation being a motivating factor for their project that aimed to compile as much of Tōkoku’s work as possible. Editor Hoshino Tenchi writes in his preface that “it has been a long time since the single volume The Works of Tōkoku was created and published, and it has gone out of print,” thus endangering a large collection of essays. The complete edition project was begun to include as many of Tōkoku’s works as possible, even those not previously published, but Tenchi explains the absence of one essay in the collection as having “already been published as a separate volume.” Presumably, one of his works that did appear in book form in 1889, The Prisoner’s Poem, was out of print, as it appears within the pages of the complete edition.
In the case of the 1902 Complete Works of Tōkoku, pieces published in magazines are not the only ephemeral sources reprinted for both contemporary access and posterity. His anthology contains both his diary and a number of unpublished pieces that were uncovered in his study by a colleague, and deemed suitable for inclusion in the collection. This raises significant questions about what it means to construct an oeuvre within an anthology of an author’s works that purports to be complete. Tōkoku’s body of work here has been expanded to include unpublished, unfinished manuscripts found in his study after his death, which are published posthumously alongside other pieces that had already been completed and appeared in print, as though publication had always been intended but not yet achieved. Although this is an extreme case, it reminds us that there is never a situation in which the oeuvre is not being actively constructed, and in which works are not being made to appear as a cohesive, consistent whole that has been invented by editors and publishers rather than writers themselves.
The 1894 Works of Tōkoku must again be raised here as a precursor. It was not simply an anthology of works collected from various published sources. Every one of the numerous essays included in the volume was an unpublished, possibly unfinished manuscript, brought together in print because, as a pre-publication advertisement puts it, “it would be a pity if the collection of Mr. Tōkoku’s manuscripts were to be scattered and lost” – but also because “his friends [...] look forward to reading it with pleasure.” It explicitly connects the ideas of preservation and mourning, and being able to know a writer through an archive of his or her manuscripts. In other words, it attempts to construct an authorial identity through a body of work that feels more private and hidden from the public than the works readers would have encountered before the writer’s death. This issue of privacy will come up with Ichiyō as well, but for now, let’s think about how this impacts the way the author is viewed by the public – it provides a kind of inside look into the author as a person, yet does so entirely through his work. It helps to collapse the historical identity of Tōkoku with his authorial identity, again erasing the materiality of his life in favor of creating a purely literary figure, one in which we can find all we need to know about Tōkoku within his works themselves. The Complete Works of Tōkoku didn’t even include a biography of the author – instead, the editor explicitly writes that although many “strangers” sent in memories of Tōkoku and asked for a biography, he thought it would be somehow redundant compared with Tōkoku’s own diary. In fact, he writes, “the very diary and informal notes written in the gentleman’s own hand [...] ought to convey his life and character.” Tōkoku is able to tell his own story from beyond the grave, possibly without intending for any of these writings to become public, more eloquently than those who researched his life or even his close friends. The diary here, then, serves as our guide to Tōkoku the person, and Tōkoku’s own literary voice is given primacy in dictating how we remember him as a historical individual. The connection between complete works and unpublished manuscripts is strongly linked here, as though it is necessary to go beyond published works to truly discover Tōkoku as an author.
If his body of works is to contain unpublished, unfinished manuscripts of all kinds, as it does in both anthologies, its contents, and thus the contents that define Tōkoku as an author, are an open question until editors make their decisions about the anthology’s composition. In this case, although there is only one editor listed – Hoshino Tenchi – it is clear that he is not the only one who has made choices about what to “discover” among Tōkoku’s papers, what constitutes a work that is worthy of publishing posthumously, and what to leave buried or lost. As we saw earlier, Shimazaki Tōson went through Tōkoku’s study in the wake of his death and sorted through all of the “scraps” he found there. In Tōson’s care in both preserving and sorting through Tōkoku’s posthumous scraps, then, there is a significant amount of culling, classification, and organization that takes place, and this is of course a necessary step in bringing the manuscripts to print without Tōkoku to oversee the process. As in the memorial collection’s bringing together of “manuscripts that would otherwise be scattered and lost,” however, there is no recognition of the highly subjective process that takes place before his “scrap paper” can become verse, plays, or novels, nor of the complex relationship between authorship and ownership that we find in the tension between Tōson and the writing he finds. Instead, these unfinished pieces that now fill the pages of The Complete Works of Tōkoku previously filled the boxes that he left behind in his study, waiting to be discovered; they are presented as completely transparent. Tōson would have had to make judgments about genre, but as he describes the pieces, they had already manifested themselves as poetry or snippets of a play before he even took them down from his bookshelf. His portrayal of this process gives the impression that Tōkoku’s work was simply a raw archive that Tōson conveyed to the reader without any intervention other than making it accessible, and as though Tōkoku himself would not have been policing his “scraps” on some level as well. We cannot know whether Tōson’s evaluation of the unfinished pieces as largely being efforts at writing plays is reflective of what he found in Tōkoku’s study or simply what he himself had been looking for.
Tōkoku is not the only writer whose unpublished works appeared for the first time in an anthology purporting to be complete; although Ichiyō’s complete edition did not contain such works before 1912, with the second edition in that year, it suddenly contained an entire second volume of diary entries and correspondence. In fact, this became the first volume of the set, literally foregrounding this “new” work. We must ask where these texts came from and why it was appropriate in 1912 to publish this writer’s diary as “literature.” How is it that Higuchi Ichiyō’s “complete” archive could also continue to expand and change form after her death, at a time when she was no longer able to give input on what is to be contributed to the public realm and what was to remain unseen? This brings us back to the archive of the author, or rather the anti-archive, the de- and re-contextualization of the works found within the complete edition, going against the foundational archival principle of preserving context as well as objects themselves. Ichiyō is reputed to have asked her diary to be burned on her deathbed, but her sister Kuniko saved it and gave it to her editors. Then, her literary executors made the decision, posthumously, not only to publish the diary, but to call it “her most superb work of literature.” So the diary here has not just gone from private to public, but it has gone from a private document to a work of literature, even if it was never intended this way. At the same time, her editor Baba Kochō writes a personal biography of his experience with Ichiyō in his afterward to this edition using the diary as a kind of reference work, backing up his own recollections by using it as a supporting document. So it changes the status of the diary to something ambiguous: literature, which we often think of as fictional or embellished, and a reference work to be taken at face value. This diary also significantly impacts Ichiyō’s identity: not only does it establish her as a fine diarist and writer of an additional literary genre, but also encourages biographical reading of her work, just as does the inclusion of Tōkoku’s letters and diaries in his own complete edition. In fact, Kochō does just this in his analysis of stories such as “Nigorie” – he identifies particular aspects of Ichiyō’s various residences as appearing in or inspiring stories, and equates her suffering with those of the characters in her tales. It is as though Ichiyō has become a character in the tragic story of her own difficult life.
Conclusion: Anthologies and ikōshū
In reality, as we have seen, in these anthologies we are looking more than anything at a window onto the minds of the compilers, editors, and the writers of the complete editions’ prefaces. Here, it is as though the word “complete” refers more to knowing Tōkoku and Ichiyō themselves completely or being able to hold their memory completely in one’s hands; and it is a memory deliberately constructed by a handful of bereaved family and friends, presenting their own Higuchi Ichiyō and Kitamura Tōkoku to others. The editors and those who contributed prefaces are engaged in creating a specific, authorized “site” of remembrance together, one that marks their shared trauma and loss.
There is a profound emphasis on personal, direct knowledge of Tōkoku and Ichiyō that both gives the editors a kind of authority with which to speak about them, and also directs readers’ attention to an author defined by his or her friends’ experiences of loss. Using Tōkoku as an example, the commemorative environment in which his first anthologies were compiled reveals the link that can be made between memory and identity. The process of remembering is two-way: Tōkoku is defined as an essential member of the Bungakkai coterie as he is included in its ranks, and in this act, the members of the literary group shape their own identities within it as well. Especially in the 1902 anthology, by providing a context for mourning and remembering Tōkoku through recalling their experiences and their firsthand knowledge of him, and doing so together as a set of collective prefaces within the same volume, his editors establish themselves as the legitimate heirs of Tōkoku, the owners of his memory and inheritors of his unpublished work. Through collective remembering of Tōkoku, the members of Bungakkai reiterate their allegiance to a group that is privileged to collectively remember him in both a personal and professional way. This act of remembrance is a complex series of associations that simultaneously defines Tōkoku and his colleagues, the legitimate membership of the Bungakkai coterie, and the place of those who occupy it.
Tōkoku’s anthology serves as an object of memory, but through its memorialization of its subject, plays an active role in constructing him as an author for posterity, and preserving a specific oeuvre that would otherwise be so ephemeral as to soon become inaccessible. This is the same in the 1897 and 1912 Complete Works of Ichiyō, where we similarly find editors legitimizing themselves, and the literary elite of Tokyo, as the authoritative literary executors of Higuchi Ichiyō. They build a body of work here that was not published anywhere else in book form, and thus create a kind of Ichiyō archive, even if it is lacking the context of the original publications – handing down to us the beginnings of an oeuvre that is preserved even today, in the context of the social memory of the author. In both cases, social memory and archive are inextricably linked with a constructed authorial identity, formed within the Complete Works themselves.
Although they are novel in their focus on completeness, I would like to end by stressing that both the Complete Works of Tōkoku and Ichiyō are direct inheritors of the genre of ikōshū, collections that memorialize as well as archive, and indeed carry it forward into the modern period. They are of a hybrid genre, precursors to, but not the same as, the complete anthologies we know and encounter today. And they reveal the crucial role that ikōshū were able to play in social memory and preservation, and the connection of these two functions to the late Meiji construction of authorial identity, especially given that they were mass produced and marketed as consumer goods – thus having a broader influence than their earlier predecessors. Ultimately, this mix of memorialization and the construction of bodies of work for posterity construct authorial identities for these two authors, and others anthologized at this time, and impact not only our understanding of Ichiyō and Tōkoku, but through creating an oeuvre for two canonized Meiji authors, our understanding of Meiji literature itself, and Japanese literary history as a whole.