Francis Mathy (essay date 1974)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Golden Ten" and "The Achievement of Shiga Naoya," in Shiga Naoya, Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1974, pp. 105-36; 165-75.

[In the following excepts from his book-length study of Shiga, Mathy analyzes eight of the author's most famous short stories and summarizes how his work differs from Western standards of great literature.]

Shiga was hampered by a literary theory that inhibited the writing of fiction, but he could, when he wished, turn out a well-made story with an exemplary unity of structure. The unifying principle might be plot or character or even atmosphere or mood, but every element, every separate part of the story, was tailored to create this unity. In...

(The entire section is 11969 words.)

Makoto Ueda (essay date 1976)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: "Shiga Naoya," in Modern Japanese Writers and the Nature of Literature, Stanford University Press, 1976, pp. 85-110.

[In the excerpt below, Makoto examines Shiga's literary aesthetic through a survey of his fictional and autobiographical writings. ]

More than most other contemporary Japanese novelists of importance, Shiga Naoya (1883-1971) seems to have been fond of writing about his own works. When the first collection of his prose was published in 1928, he wrote a postscript explaining the motive and intent of each work included in it. He did the same for the nine-volume Collected Works of Shiga Naoya (1937-38), and for the five-volume Library of...

(The entire section is 5499 words.)

William F. Sibley (essay date 1979)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to The Shiga Hero, University of Chicago Press, 1979, pp. 1-34.

[In the following excerpt, Sibley argues that the narrator of Shiga's stories is a distinct persona that, while often serving as the author's alter-ego, is separate from him. He names this figure the "Shiga hero. "]

Shiga Naoya (1883-1971) wrote a fairly large number of short stories, many pieces that are still shorter and essentially nonfiction, a few narratives of intermediate length (so-called chūhen shōsetsu), and only a single full-length novel, entitled An'ya kōro, which has been translated by Edwin McClellan as A Dark Night's Passing. In spite of the...

(The entire section is 2463 words.)

Hiroaki Sato (essay date 1987)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Knife Thrower's Bad Aim," in The New York Times Book Review, April 5, 1987, p. 16.

[In the following review, Sato offers a favorable assessment of Shiga's collection The Paper Door and Other Stories.]

Naoya Shiga (1883-1971) was once described as "a god of fiction." Such an accolade might be a little excessive, even if the characterization were confined to his country, Japan. But he did write a number of short stories that are nearly perfect in their simplicity, directness and mastery of subject matter.

Take "The Razor." It begins: "Yoshisaburo, of the Tatsudoko in Azabu-Roppongi, a man almost never ill, took to his bed with a very bad...

(The entire section is 973 words.)

Edward Fowler (essay date 1988)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: "Shiga Naoya: The Hero as Sage," in The Rhetoric of Confession: Shishōsetsu in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Fiction, University of California Press, 1988, pp. 187-247.

[In the following excerpt, Fowler surveys Shiga's novellas, particularly Wakai. He then goes on to contend that Shiga "depopulates " his fiction, showing his main characters in relative isolation in order to better explore the nature of personal experience.]

Both the power and the limitations of Shiga's confessional rhetoric are revealed perhaps most plainly in the "Wakai trilogy" (Wakai sanbusaku): Ōtsu Junkichi (Ōtsu Junkichi, 1912), Wakai...

(The entire section is 7692 words.)

Marilyn Jeanne Miller (essay date 1989)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Paper Door and Other Stories, in World Literature Today, Vol. 63, No. 1, Winter, 1989, p. 166.

[In the review below, Miller admires the "truthfulness" of the pieces in this collection of Shiga's stories.]

Shiga, a member of the White Birch Movement (Shirakabaha), which was the most articulate group of writers advocating realism in fiction, absorbed the tenets of Western realism and married it to traditional Japanese esthetics and subjects. Like Natsume Sōseki, Shiga was interested in the subtleties of human psychology and human relationships. His realism never degenerated into the excesses of the watakushi-shōsetsu or...

(The entire section is 427 words.)

Shigekazu Ando (essay date 1993)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Destiny of Hamlet in Modern Japan: Concerning The Diary of Claudius by Shiga Naoya," in Comparative Literature Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4, 1993, pp. 351-60.

[In the essay below, Shigekazu suggests that Shiga's revision of Shakespeare's Hamlet in "The Diary of Claudius" illustrates significant differences between Japanese and Western literary modernism.]

D. H. Lawrence writes on Hamlet in his brilliant essay Twilight in Italy (1916):

I had always felt an aversion from Hamlet: a creeping, unclean thing he seems, on the stage, whether he is Forbes Robertson or anyone else. His nasty porking and...

(The entire section is 3558 words.)