The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism

The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism

Alan Tansman

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780520245051

Publisher: University of California Press


This wide-ranging study of Japanese cultural expression reveals how a particular, often seemingly innocent aesthetic sensibility—present in novels, essays, popular songs, film, and political writings—helped create an “aesthetic of fascism” in the years leading up to World War II. Evoking beautiful moments of violence, both real and imagined, these works did not lead to fascism in any instrumental sense. Yet, the book suggests, they expressed and inspired spiritual longings quenchable only through acts in the real world. The book traces this lineage of aesthetic fascism from its beginnings in the 1920s through its flowering in the 1930s to its afterlife in postwar Japan.