UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

a study of the major works of Hayashi Fumiko Brown, Janice


This thesis provides a critical evaluation of certain selected works of Hayashi Fumiko and demonstrates the unique literary achievement of this important modern Japanese woman writer who is as yet little known in the West. This thesis contends that the element of struggle, so omnipresent in this writer's life and works, is the essence of her artistic vision. Herein, struggle is examined not only in terms of theme, characterization, imagery, and style but also as a major determining factor in the development and progression of narrative itself. Four principal struggles are discerned: (1) for art and beauty, (2) for love, (3) for maturity and independence, and (4) for survival. It is shown also that the first three of these categories of struggle belong to what in Hayashifs writings may be designated as the inner world of human feeling. This inner world is opposed to and in conflict with the outer world of hardship and necessity in which the struggle for survival takes place. Five major stages in the development of Hayashifs work are proposed, and representative works are discussed in each period to illustrate the developments and modifications of the struggle element. Chapter One, dealing with the period 1922-1930, discusses Hayashi's early poetry and her first major work, Hōrōki. Here, the inner struggle for art and beauty is affirmed amidst the hardship of the outer struggle for survival. Chapter Two discusses the period 1931-1934, and focuses on the short stories "Fūkin to sakana no machi'' and "Seihin no sho." In these works the inner struggles for love and for maturity are brought to the fore as Hayashi's early autobiographical fiction reaches the peak of lyrical expression. In Chapter Three, covering the period 1936-1942, Hayashi's change to "objective" fiction is examined, in particular her first full-length novella, Inazumaf in which the inner struggle is weakened and debilitated by the struggle with outside circumstances. Chapter Four covers the years 1946-1949, a period which represents Hayashi's full maturity. In Ukigumo, her masterpiece, the forces of the inner struggle assume demonic proportions, overpowering the outward struggle for survival and success. In Chapter Five, Hayashi's final years, 1950-1951, are examined. Here, in Meshi, the author attempts to reconcile the dichotomies of the inner and outer elements of struggle as she portrays the lives of ordinary people, striving to find self-fulfillment in the modern world. The thesis concludes that the element of struggle provides a primary tool by which the works of this author can be fully appraised and appreciated. By providing an explication of this element, this thesis not only offers an insight into the mechanisms of Hayashi's genius but also presents a much-needed introduction to and interpretation of this writer's work.

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