Friday, 1 August 2008

Takiji Kobayashi

"1920s proletarian novel strikes chord with young underemployed" - The Japan Times, Friday, July 18, 2008

I first read about Takiji Kobayashi (小林 多喜二 1903-1933) in the Finnish socialist literary magazine Kirjallisuuslehti (1934, p. 290). He was a politically conscious writer and dissident in imperial Japan, tortured to death by the police. His rediscovered novel, Kanikosen ("Crab-Canning Boat", 1929), deals with the difficult working conditions and labourers' collective struggle 80 years ago, and the modern-day part-time proletariat has discovered its relevance.
Shinchosha Publishing Co. said that in a normal year around 5,000 copies of the book would be reprinted. But this year, it has already printed nearly 380,000 copies.
The Japanarchy blog has a big post on Kobayashi, including many images of the manga based on Kanikosen. The comments include valuable discussions, too (how often do you see that?!). A must-read if you are interested in radical labour activism and Japan in the 1920's and 30's. Warning: The post includes some difficult photos of the deceased Kobayashi.
Here is a 10-minute clip from the 1953 movie by Sô Yamamura.

And here's an article by a guy who worked at fish-processing ships himself, and what he felt when he read the manga versions.

(Crossposted at 1920 A.D.)


Tinet said...

Wow, thank you for this post! *saves pages to read later*

Tinet said...

Yes! I found the book in German translation at the library (a DDR edition from the publisher Volk und Welt, 1958).

ainur said...

Good old Deutsche Demokratische Republik...