Hakuchō Masamune

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Hakuchō Masamune, 1925
Hakuchō Masamune's birthplace

Hakuchō Masamune (正宗 白鳥 Masamune Hakuchō?), a pseudonym of Tadao Masamune (March 3, 1879 – October 28, 1962) was a noted Japanese critic, novelist, and dramatist, and a leading member of the Japanese Naturalist school of literature.

Masamune was born in Bizen, Okayama as the eldest son, where his birthplace is now a museum. In 1896 he joined the English department of the Tokyo Senmon Gakko (now Waseda University). He was baptized as a Christian by priest Uemura Masahisa in 1897. After graduation, he worked in the university's Publishing Department, then in 1903 began writing literary, art, and cultural criticism for the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper. In 1904 he published his first novel, Sekibaku (Solitude), in the Shinshosetsu literary magazine, Jin’ai (Dust) in 1907, and gained attention with a naturalist novel, Doko-e (Whither?), published in serial form in Waseda bungaku through 1908. He left the newspaper in 1910 to become a full-time author, and in 1911 his novel Doro ningyō (The Mud Doll) gained further acclaim.

Although Masamune is perhaps most remembered for his criticism, he wrote a variety of works throughout his career, including short stories, dramas, and literary criticism. Major novels include Ushibeya no nioi (The Stench of the Stable, 1916) and Shisha seisha (The Dead and the Living, 1916); his best known plays are perhaps Jinsei no kōfuku (The Happiness of Human Life, 1924) and Tenshi hokaku (Captive Angels, 1947); and outstanding examples of his criticism include Bundan jimbutsu hyōron (Critical Essays on Literary Figures), Shisō mushisō (Thought and Non-Thought, 1938), Bundanteki jijoden (A Literary Autobiography, 1938), Sakka ron (A Study of Writers, 1941-2), Shizenshugi seisuishi (The Rise and Fall of Naturalism, 1948), and Uchimura Kanzō (1949).

Masamune received the 1959 Yomiuri Prize in literature for Kotoshi no aki.


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