A Note on Taiwan Literature: Three Works by Taiwanese Writers

Ozaki Hotsuki

Translated by Richard John Lynn


     We have to ask if the term "Taiwan literature"is really suitable, for its status is not comparable to Japanese, Chinese, or American literature but actually resembles, say, Irish or Ainu literature.  Lu Hsün might have written in Japanese and Oscar Wilde might have published in French, but what they had written would still be works of Chinese and English literature respectively.  But what should we make of works written by Taiwanese and published in Japanese during the time of Japanese rule or works by Koreans in Japanese published under similar conditions?  This problem is fundamentally different from the question of whether it is appropriate, for example, to assign the works of the Pole Joseph Conrad to English literature because he became a naturalized British subject and published his works in English.  The literature of an oppressed people, be it those of Taiwan or Korea, is full of images of both resistance and submission to colonial rule, which, moreover, could not be expressed in their own languages but only in the language of the colonial masters-or, at least, such writers felt compelled to write in this way.  And this, in my opinion, constitutes the most serious problem in considerations of colonial literature.

     Even now in the post-war era, this problem still drags on, perfectly obvious in the persistent controversy over whether the works of Korean writers who live in Japan and write in Japanese belong to Korean literature or Japanese literature.  A piece  published by Nihon Kikanshi Tsûshinsha (The Japan Bulletin News Agency), August 1959, "Nihonjin no mita zai-Nichi Chôsenjin"(Korean Residents in Japan as Seen by the Japanese), edited by the Rôdôsha Ruporutaaju Shûdan (Labor Reportage Group), presents the distress of Kim Tal-su, "an author who addresses himself mainly to Japanese readers,""who is trying to move beyond appeals and establish a field for creative activity in Japan." Kim, who "is only too proficient in the Japanese language and writes literature in Japanese only too well,"expressed his state of mind in a reply he issued to critical circles regarding his own work, Genkai Nada (The Sea of Genkai):

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