Haruo Umezaki 1915-1965
HARUO UMEZAKI 1915-1965
PERSONAL: Born February 15, 1915, in Fukuoka, Japan; died of cirrhosis of the liver July 19, 1965, in Tokyo, Japan. Education: Studied Japanese literature at Tokyo Imperial University.
CAREER: Writer. Military service: Japanese navy, 1944–45; served in naval signals unit in Kyushu.
AWARDS, HONORS: Naoki prize, 1954, for Boroya no shunjū.
Sakurajima (novella; originally published, 1946), Daichishobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.
Ue no kisetsu (novel; title means "The Season of Hunger"), 1948.
B tō no fūbutsushi (novel; title means "Landscapes from B Island"), Kawade Shobō (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.
Runeta no shiminhei (also see below), Getsuyoshobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1949.
Hi no hate (novella; title means "The End of the Day"; also see below), 1950.
(With Jun Ishikawa and Masuji Ibuse) Gendai Nihon shosetsu taikei. Bessatsu, three volumes, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1950.
Hi no hate; Runeta no shiminhei: hoka ippen, Kadokawa Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1953.
(With Shiina Rinzo and Noma Hiroshi) Shiina Rinzo, Noma Hiroshi, Umezaki Haruo shu, Kadokawa Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1954.
Ajisai: shōsetsushū, Kawade Shobō (Tokyo, Japan), 1955.
Tsumujikaze (novel; title means "Cyclone"), Kadokawa Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1957.
(With Ooka Shohei) Ooka Shohei, Umezaki Haruo shu, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1959.
Hito mo arukeba, Chuo Koronsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1959.
Umezaki Haruo shu, Chikumashubo (Tokyo, Japan), 1959.
Ten shiru chi shiru, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1962.
Kuruidako, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1963.
Genge (short stories), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1965.
Genka (short stories), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1965.
Umezaki Haruo zenshu (short stories), Shinchosa (Tokyo, Japan), Volumes 1-2, 1966, Volumes 3-7, 1967.
(With Nagai Tatsuo and Tamiya Torahiko) Nagai Tatsuo, Tamiya Torahiko, Umezaki Haruo shu, Chikuma Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1967.
(With Shiina Rinzo) Shiina Rinzo, Umezaki Haruo, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1967.
Occurrences of an Old Dilapidated House (translation of "Boroya no shunjū"), translated by Hisashi Kanekatsu and Takeshi Nakajima, Kobunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1968.
(With Serizawa Kojiro, Abe Tomoji, Nakayama Yoshihide) Serizawa Kojiro, Abe Tomoji, Nakayama Yoshihide, Umezaki Haruo, Chikuma Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1968.
Umezaki Haruo zuihitsushu (essays), Gogatsu Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1974.
Usubaka dangi (short stories), Bancho Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1974.
Contributor to periodicals, including Kindai bungaku.
SIDELIGHTS: While serving in the Japanese navy at the end of World War II, Haruo Umezaki developed an intense distaste for military discipline and a deep sympathy for the ordinary, downtrodden citizens of Japan, who suffered psychologically after the war during the American occupation. Other authors associated with the postwar literary movement in Japan include Abe Kōbō, Noma Hiroshi, Takeda Taijun, Hirano Ken, and Fukunaga Takehiko, among others. Together, they were described by Erik R. Lofgren in Comparative Literature as belonging to the sengoha movement: "Active during the first decade after Japan's surrender in August 1945, the authors in the sengoha spoke for literary orthodoxy and were bound together by their common experience in the war and their roots in the prewar literary tradition."
Although he had begun writing before the war, Umezaki did not produce any significant works until after 1945. He then became associated with a group of authors who contributed to the periodical Kindai bungaku ("Modern Literature"). His early writings are marked by his war experiences, while his more mature novels and short stories are noted for their preoccupation with the psychological defeat of the Japanese and the economic woes they suffered after the war. Umezaki himself suffered from psychological problems; indeed, mental illness became the subject of his last writings.
Among Umezaki's notable early works are the novellas Sakurajima and Hi no hate. The former tells of a man serving in the navy signals, as the author did, at the volcanic island of Sakurajima; the latter is also a war novel. In his stories, Umezaki uses the human body as a symbol of the misery and suffering of postwar Japan and of modern life; thus, the illnesses, physical wounds, and starvation his characters suffer directly represent the suffering of his society as a whole. In "Umezaki's early, war-related works, wounds and illness serve two functions," Lofgren explained. "First, they mark the soldier, a metaphor for the self, as the locus of excoriation. The prewar image of the valorized soldier dies under the burning gaze of public censure. At the same time, they mark that same body as one that has served the Emperor to the limits of his ability as a soldier, performing the actions required of one devoted to the national cause, even to the point of death…. As such, the marked body and configured self becomes the site of a dialogic struggle, an interaction, inversion, and subversion that expand the configurations of the self far beyond the 'intentional' or acceptable."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Slupski, Zbigniew, Dictionary of Oriental Literature, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1974.
Steinberg, S.H., editor, Cassell's Encyclopedia of World Literature, revised edition, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1973.
Comparative Literature, spring, 2000, Erik R. Lofgren, "Democratizing Illnesses: Umezaki Haruo, Censorship, and Subversion," pp. 157-178.