Poetic spirit and internal necessity : an interpretation of the literature and artistic philosophy of Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, as understood through the writings of Wassily Kandinsky

Wilder, Nicole Lea
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2013]
In the first section of "Bungeiteki na, amari ni bungeiteki na" ("Literary, all too Literary," 1927), Akutagawa Ryūnosuke briefly discusses two of the most influential painters of the early twentieth century, Paul Cézanne and Wassily Kandinsky. He uses these two artists as examples to help describe the concept of the 'hanashi' rashii hanashi no nai shōsetsu ("novel with no story-like story"), which he argues is the purest type of novel.1 Cézanne's paintings, he writes, rely more heavily on color than on dessin, or structure, and yet are full of life. Kandinsky goes a step further, as the only artist who manages to do away completely with the need for dessin, as seen in his Improvisations. Though the passage concerning Cézanne and Kandinsky is often cited in critical works that address "Bungeiteki" and the famous ronsō ("literary debate") with Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, of which it forms one side, the significance of this short section concerning dessin, and specifically the mention of Kandinsky, remains largely overlooked. By citing the works of the Post-Impressionist Cézanne and the Expressionist Kandinsky, Akutagawa indicates an extremely important path of influence that has yet to be fully explored in the critical literature surrounding his writing. Consideration of Akutagawa's lifelong engagement with the visual arts is essential to a complete understanding of his career.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky, literature, visual arts
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