UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The wall that kobo built: four short stories by Abe Kobo Horvat, Andras


This thesis is divided into three parts: Chapter I, Chapter II, and the Appendices; each of these parts fulfills different purposes. Chapter I concerns itself with Abe Kobo's life and working environment. Although the argument that a man's life and his works should be kept separate, may be valid when we examine the works of an author of our own cultural-linguistic environment, such an examination of style, devoid of human experience would be meaningless when applied to the works of a man who is little known and whose culture still remains to be studied by most North Americans. This thesis, therefore-, examines both the man and his works. Furthermore, Japanese critics, as can be seen in the first part of Chapter I, would never consider separating the author's personality from his literary creations. Chapter I comes to the conclusion that a connection does exist between Abe and his heroes, albeit a much more subtle one than the typical one-to-one, author-hero relationship of Japanese confessional literature. Chapter II is an examination of seven of Abe's stories, four of which, "Oshimusume" [The Deaf Girl, 1949], "Inu" [The Dog, 1954], "Yume no heishi" [The Dream Soldier, 1957] and "Toki no gake" [The Cliff of Time, 1964], are translated and appended at the back of this thesis. Two of the remaining three, "Akai mayu" (Red Cocoon 1950, trans. John Nathan 1966), and Dendorokakariya" (Dendrocacalia 1949, trans. M. Jelinkova 1965), are available in English, though the remaining one "Kabe—S. Karuma shi no hanzai" [The Wall, The Crime of S. Karuma Esq., 1951], an extremely long short story remains to be translated. These three works represent not only stepping stones in Abe's career, they also testify to the painstaking experimentation in which Abe was engaged before abandoning the surrealist style of his early years. In the second part of Chapter II, the four translations mentioned above are examined in chronological order and are analyzed in detail to show Abe's change in style at about the time he wrote "Yume no heishi." Some facts concerning Abe's politics are also explained. Appendix I and II contain the four short stories in chronological order: first the translations and then the originals. Appendix III Is a list of Abe's original works, in order of publication. The corpus of this thesis, four translations, three stories in the original, several novels in translation, as well as the works of criticism consulted, should provide the basis for some tentative conclusions. First, Abe's style is not confessional, but descriptive and explanatory. Second, Abe abandoned the politically directed surrealism of his early days for a more subtle, documentary style. Third, Abe's heroes struggle with outside forces against which they are powerless; their defeat is intended to prove some failing present in all of us. It is hoped that the materials introduced, and the conclusions arrived at in this thesis will help to form the basis for more detailed research.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.