Early novel by Nobel laureate Kawabata identified
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A serialized story that appeared in a southwestern Japan newspaper in the 1920s has been confirmed as an early novel by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), a researcher said Sunday.
Takumi Ishikawa, professor of modern Japanese literature at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, examined the serialized story, titled "Utsukushii!" (Beautiful!), and identified it as a novel by the author. The Kawabata Foundation, which manages the novelist's works, confirmed it was actually his first serialized novel in a Japanese newspaper.
Only a few researchers knew of the existence of the serialized story as it had not been included in the complete collection of Kawabata's works and was not listed as one of his works.
The novel was published in four installments in the Fukuoka Nichinichi Shimbun daily, the forerunner of the Nishinippon Shimbun based in Fukuoka, between April 11 and May 2, 1927, when Kawabata was 27.
It was previously thought that his first serialized novel in a newspaper was "Umino Himatsuri" (Fire Festival at Sea) published from August 1927 in the Chugai Shogyo Shimpo, the forerunner of the Nikkei daily.
"The recently confirmed novel is likely to have been concealed by Kawabata himself and the reason should be explored in future research," Ishikawa said.
Hiroshi Sakaguchi, an editor of PR magazine published by the Fukuoka City Museum of Literature, initially found the serialized story several years ago while he was compiling a list of serialized novels that appeared in the daily.
The novel tells the story of a factory owner, whose handicapped son dies, and a crippled girl who was acquainted with the son. The girl eventually dies in an accident.
Ishikawa said the novel is interesting as it shows Kawabata's sympathy for the disadvantaged, often seen in the proletarian literature of his contemporaries, as well as his lifetime theme of defining beauty.
The story is similar to the novel titled "Utsukushiki haka" (A Beautiful Tomb), which Kawabata published in the March issue of the monthly Shincho literary magazine in 1929. Kawabata may have rewritten the novel, experts said.
Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese novelist to receive the award.
February 18, 2013(Mainichi Japan)