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The Gods Left FirstThe Captivity and Repatriation of Japanese POWs in Northeast Asia, 1945-1956$
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Andrew E. Barshay

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520276154

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520276154.001.0001

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Ishihara Yoshirō

Ishihara Yoshirō

“My Best Self Did Not Return”

(p.121) Ishihara Yoshirō
The Gods Left First

Andrew E. Barshay

University of California Press

Chapter 5 considers a third group: long-term internees who were designated “war criminals”—those convicted of “counterrevolutionary” offenses against Soviet law and usually sentenced to prison terms of twenty-five years. Highly disparate in makeup, they ranged from senior officers and intelligence operatives to low-level Russian-language experts and disgraced “democratic movement” activists. The focus is on Ishihara Yoshirō, a poet and analyst of the gulag, whose experience both recapitulates that of the first two groups of returnees, but extends far beyond it. As a “twenty-five-year man,” it is argued, Ishihara was more liminal, more estranged; he wrote amid a psychological tension and with concerns that decisively marked him off from those who had returned earlier.

Keywords:   Ishihara Yoshirō, poetry, Soviet law, gulag, counterrevolution

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