Before the Dawn (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Despite a formidable reputation as a premier novelist of prewar Japan, Tson Shimazaki has remained largely unknown to Western readers, as his novels, always lengthy and complex, have daunted the enthusiasm of potential translators. This fine English version of his most significant and longest work of fiction presents the author’s compelling vision of the Westernization of his country. Before the Dawn has long assumed the status of a modern classic in Japan.
Tson, as he is usually called in Japan, was a prolific writer, and Before the Dawn took him many years to compose. The work first appeared in a monthly journal, in segments printed between 1929 and 1935. Tson revised it for publication in book form; book 1 appeared in 1932 and book 2 in 1935. Tson was already a famous writer when he undertook this tremendous effort, and the publication was to cap his long and distinguished career. He was the son of an important village official who lived on the old Kiso road, an important mountain artery in the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) that connected this remote area to the major road networks near what is now the modern city of Nagoya. Tson was able to use his family history as background for the novel, but his career took many twists and turns before he would return to the subject of his own childhood.
Tson spent his formative years in Tokyo, where he came in contact with new movements in Western literature and thought. His first...
(The entire section is 1591 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, October 18, 1987, p. 44.
The New Yorker. LXIII, August 3, 1987, p. 72.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, June 26, 1987, p. 58.
The Times Literary Supplement. January 1, 1988, p. 14.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, August 23, 1987, p. 11.
(The entire section is 34 words.)