Reflections on war, guilt, and responsibility : aspects of post-war German and Japanese drama (1945-1970) / by Hiroko Harada.
Against the background of post-war literary developments in Germany and Japan, this study compares several representative dramas under the headings 'The Returning Soldier' (Wolfgang Borchert's Draussen vor der Tur, Miyoshi Juro's Haikyo), 'A Burning House' (Max Frisch's Biedermann und die Brandstiffer, Mishima Yukio's Kataku), 'Doomsday' (Friedrich Durrenmatt's, Die Physiker, Betsuyaku Minoru's Zo), and 'War Crimes Trials' (Rolf Schneider's Prozess in Nurberg, Peter Weiss's Die Ermittlung, Kinoshita Junji's Kamito to hito tono aida). These playwrights' attempts to come to terms with military defeat, betrayal by leaders, wartime atrocities, holocausts, blindness, passivity, guilt, collective and individual responsibility, etc., reveal a variety of dramatic approaches and a number of similar as well as dissimilar tendencies in dealing with an 'unmastered' past affecting the present. Formally, these plays range from expressionistic to absurdist, from realistic-documentary to grotesque, from satiric-demonstrative to loosely suggestive techniques. There seems to be a stronger didactic/moralizing element in the German examples than in their less direct, more ambiguous Japanese counterparts--partly as a result of the actual evidence brought forth, partly also because of adaptations of parabolic and allegoric constructions, and allusions to the morality tradition, imagery of hellish scenarios, the preponderance of trial and judgment scenes, and so forth. Although the greatest common feature of all of these plays is the urgency with which they evoke the memory of a burdensome past, and the necessity of activating the audience's conscience to rethink and take a stand on the issue of collective or personal responsibility (and on the related victim/victimizer complex), it appears that even in the face of open-ended strands on both sides, the German plays have, strategically, pushed the challenge towards individual acceptance of these burdens further than the Japanese plays--with the exception of the second part of Kinoshita's play, which goes considerably beyond the unresolved arguments as shown, for example, in Miyoshi's play.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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