The Rise and Fall of a 'New Woman': Arishima Takeo's Aru Onna

Leith Morton


In Japan discussion of the importance of the Arishima Takeo (1878-1923) often begins by requoting the quotation with which Honda Shugo began his pioneer postwar study of Arishima. The quotation is attributed to a second-hand bookseller who remarked "Arishima's collected works ... that's the cheapest there is. It's been that way since the war."

There is no doubt this was the case until the publication of Honda's study but since then and especially since the late sixties there has been a flood of publications on Arishima. It culminated in 1978 with the celebration ofthe hundredth anniversary of his birth. The very next year saw the start of the publication of the new collected works from the Chikuma ShobO, the first new collected works of Arishima to be published since World War II. In a sense the wheel has turned full circle, since, as Senuma Shigeki has remarked, the publication of Arishima's first collected works in 1917 heralded the birth of an Arishima "boom", which was admittedly only short-lived.2 However, except for the unflagging popularity of what is recognised as his masterpiece Aru Onna (A Certain Woman) the enthusiasm of the critics does not seem to have been shared by the general public.

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