Mori Rintarō Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

One of the greatest writers of the Meiji period (1867-1912), a time of cautious cultural and technological exchange with the West, Mori gai (moh-ree oh-gi) shaped the direction of modern Japanese fiction by combining an appreciation of Western values with an emphasis on loyalty to traditional duty.gai[Mori Ogai]}{$S[A]Mori Rinatr{omacr}[Mori Rinatro];Mori {Omacr}gai}gai[Mori Ogai]}gai[Mori Ogai]}

Mori gai was born Mori Rinatr in the small town of Tsuwano in western Japan where he, like his father, was trained to serve the daimyo, or feudal lord, as a doctor. In preparation, gai began the study of Confucius and Mencius at age five and entered the fief school at seven, where he excelled in the study of Chinese philosophers, mathematics, medicine, and Dutch.

Mori continued his studies in Tokyo after a centralized administration replaced the daimyo system in 1871. He lived with influential scholar Nishi Amane, whose interest in Western civilization influenced Mori’s cultural absorption; in addition, Mori began a study of German, the required language for medical professionals. In 1874, by pretending to be two years older than he really was, Mori was admitted to the preparation course for the most important medical school in Tokyo.

He was accepted at the main school in 1877, and upon graduation in 1881 he moved to Senju to help his father with patients. There he translated Asagao Nikki and some poems from the Genji Monogatari. He fervently longed to travel abroad to continue his study, but his parents felt that the army offered security and opportunity, so, aided by his family’s connections, Mori accepted the post of second lieutenant in the Medical Corps. Finally, in 1884, he was ordered to Germany to study hygiene and the organization of medicine in the German army. While pursuing his medical studies, Mori read widely in German literature and philosophy, including the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine, developing an affinity for European Romanticism and an interest in the German way of life. His impressions of Berlin are reflected in the story “Maihime,” which he completed on his return to Japan four years later.

In addition, entries in his diary, Doitsu Nikki, which he kept during those years, and elements of his earliest short stories suggest that he fell in love with a...

(The entire section is 969 words.)