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The Image of the Train in Modern Japanese Literature : A Study on Yumeno-kyusaku’s ‘Sudama’

  • 日本硏究
  • 2014, (37), pp.149-168
  • Publisher : The Center for Japanese Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Japanese Language and Literature
  • Published : August 20, 2014

Lee Hyun-Hee 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Image of the Train in Modern Japanese Literature: A Study on Yumeno-kyusaku’s ‘Sudama’ Yumeno Kyusaku’s Sudama was published in the mystery magazine Profile, in May 1934. Train and railways played important roles in this novel as the main character killed himself by walking along the railways and hit by train. Train was often regarded as a symbol of modern technology in many contexts. This paper attempts to explicate the various images of trains described in Japanese modern novels of 1920-1930’s and to focus on the meaning of the train in Sudama related to the suicide of the main character. In many of Japanese modern novels, Train is either subject to be criticized as a symbol of civilization, or described as running technology which divides the inner space of the train from the scenery of outside. Sometimes train becomes idealistic place which brings passengers to the outer space of fantasy like Miyazawa Kenji’s Night on the Galactic Railroad. In Sudama, the characters exist outside of train, not like other novels, and railways functionalized as metaphor of efficiency of the modern society. Yumeno Kyusaku wrote many novels about trains, and in Senro of 1926, the main character also commit suicide by walking along the railroad. The motif of suicide on the railways was repeated in his novels, and the collision with the train implicates the crush between human and modern civilization. In Sudama, hitting by train was regarded as the only way that he could be free and resists to the reality.

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