Background Facts about 'At Kinosaki'
Shiga Naoya wrote "At Kinosaki" (Kinosaki ni te - é‚Ìè‚É‚Ä) in 1917, when he was 34 years old. The story is based on his real experience in the autumn of 1913, when he was recovering at the hot springs of Kinosaki, from an accident which nearly took his life. Shiga was walking with a friend toward Shibaura one evening along beside the train track of the Yamanote Line when the train hit him from behind. The incident is recorded in Shiga's diary, and was believed to be the material on which an unfinished work called "Inochi" (‚¢‚Ì‚¿) written by Shiga in 1914 was based. All the incidents that take place in the novel did actually happen in the same period of time of three weeks.
A Look at Shiga Naoya's Style
"At Kinosaki" is considered to be a fine example of Shiga Naoya's famous style of writing, and an exemplary model of the "I novel" (shi-shosetsu - Ž„¬à) . It is also a work often used as a great example of a novel written in a movement coined as the "Naturalism" movement; which describes writers attempting to take scientific methods of observation and turn it into literature. Shiga Naoya is reported to have said that he never attempted to draw a line between story novels and non-fiction essays. He described his main function as a writer was to select, set and arrange materials into a story. If we look at the first sentence of the novel "I had been hit by a train on the Tokyo loop line and I went alone to Kinosaki hot spring to convalesce" we can immediately recognize his 'matter of fact' style of writing. He so efficiently sets up a story's entire background in one sentence with nothing but simple fact. Tanizaki Junichiro refers to this as Shiga's 'practicality' (jitsuyo - ŽÀ—p), which Tanizaki writes is quite rare in Japanese prose. One of the features of Shiga's writing the reader notices very quickly is his short sentences, which is an...