Fumiko Hayashi (author)

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Fumiko Hayashi

Fumiko Hayashi (林 芙美子 Hayashi Fumiko?, December 31, 1903 or 1904 (Japanese sources disagree on the birth year) – June 28, 1951) was a Japanese novelist and poet.

When Hayashi was seven, her mother ran away with a manager of her common-law husband's store, and afterwards the three worked in Kyūshū as itinerant merchants. After graduating from high school in 1922, Hayashi moved to Tokyo with a lover and lived with several men until settling into marriage with the painter Rokubin Tezuka (手塚 緑敏?) in 1926.

Many of her works revolve around themes of free spirited women and troubled relationships. One of her best-known works is Hōrōki (translated into English as "Vagabond's Song" or "Diary of a Vagabond") (放浪記, 1927), which was adapted into the anime Wandering Days. Another is her late novel Ukigumo (Floating Clouds, 1951), which was made into a movie by Mikio Naruse in 1955.

Hayashi's work is notable as well for its feminist themes. She was later to face criticism for accepting sponsored-trips by the Japanese military government to occupied China, from where she reported positively on Japanese administration.

Until the 1980s, "women's literature" (joryu bungaku) was considered a separate category from other modern Japanese literature. It was critically disparaged as popular but too sentimental. But Ericson's (1997) translations and analysis of the immensely popular Hōrōki and Suisen (Narcissus) suggest that Hayashi's appeal is rooted in the clarity with which she conveys the humanity not just of women, but also others on the underside of Japanese society.

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References[edit]

  • Ericson, Joan E. (1997). Be a Woman: Hayashi Fumiko and Modern Japanese Women's Literature. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

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