Licentious Fictions traces the development of human emotion, or ninjō, in the discursive space of Japanese fiction from the early nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. It is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship that questions and problematizes the Edo-Meiji divide. Daniel Poch highlights the continuities in ninjō discourse even amid the discontinuities engendered by the encounter with Western literature in the late nineteenth century. In particular, Licentious Fictions disputes, quite effectively, the usual narrative of Japanese literary history that credits Tsubouchi Shōyō as the originator of realistic depiction of human emotion with his call for a literature of psychological realism in his 1885 work Shōsetsu shinzui (Essence of the novel). Poch traces the discourse on ninjō from the early nineteenth century to show that Shōyō, as well as later writers such as Natsume Sōseki, were situated in and interacting with an existing discourse on the literary...

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