Tsubouchi Shoyo (June 22, 1859 - February 28, 1935)
Born: 22nd June, 1859
Died: 28th February, 1935
Nationality: Japanese author
Region: Ota, Japan, Atami
Notable works: "Shosetsu shinzui"

Tsubouchi Shoyo Facts

Biography

Tsubouchi Shoyo, pseudonym of Tsubouchi Yuzo, (born June 22, 1859, Ota, Fukui prefecture, Japan--died Feb. 28, 1935, Atami), playwright, novelist, critic, and translator who occupied a prominent position in Japanese letters for nearly half a century. He wrote the first major work of modern Japanese literary criticism, Shosetsu shinzui (1885-86; The Essence of the Novel), translated the complete works of William Shakespeare, helped found the modern Japanese theatre, and was the most famous lecturer at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Born near Nagoya, the youngest son of a large samurai (warrior class) family, Shoyo graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1883. He achieved fame in the 1880s as the translator of Sir Walter Scott, E.G.E. Bulwer-Lytton, and Shakespeare and as the author of nine novels and many political allegories advocating parliamentarism.

In Shosetsu shinzui, Shoyo attacked the loosely constructed plots and weak characterizations of contemporary Japanese novels and urged writers to concentrate on analyses of personality in realistic situations. His own best-known novel, however, Tosei shoseikatagi (1885-86; "The Character of Present-Day Students"), depicting the foolish adventures of a group of contemporary university students, suffered from the same weaknesses that he decried.

In 1883 Shoyo began teaching social science at the school that later became Waseda University. In 1890 he helped organize its faculty of letters and then helped establish Waseda Middle School, which he later headed. He founded (1891) and edited the literary journal Waseda bungaku. Shoyo was also one of the founders of the shingeki ("new drama") movement, which introduced the plays of Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw to Japan and provided an outlet for modern plays by Japanese authors. In 1915 he retired from Waseda University to devote his time to his translation of Shakespeare.

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