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
This death represents a natural death; dying of old age. He talks of how he would be lying in his family's grave, describing his appearance with his face "green and cold and hard" and his wounds "would be as they were that day". The narrator's confusion, coupled with the direct and sincere expression of this confusion is the key point in this 'closeness' between the reader and the narrator. Tanizaki Junichiro refers to this as Shiga's 'practicality' (jitsuyo - 12AE p), which Tanizaki writes is quite rare in Japanese prose. It was interesting to notice Shiga's mentioning the ducks swimming away from the action. "In the evening, when all the other wasps had gone inside the nest, it was lonely to see that one little corpse remain outside on the cold roof tiles. It is another example of Shiga's 'to the point' style. The Closing Paragraph The final sentence of the work takes us again to the 'present' of the story three years later, from where the story began. We begin to see how Shiga relates 'quietness' and 'loneliness' to death. The word 'quiet' is used again in the next paragraph to describe how the dead bee was probably "lying quietly" after it had been washed away by the rain. Its tail lay flat against the rock. However, it is with remarkable style that Shiga relates these three deaths in such a way that they each represent a certain type of death; natural, murderous, and accidental, and then describe so artfully the way he attempts to find a comforting common philosophy to understand them. The Death of the Bee The narrator's first encounter with an animal dying is when he wakes up one morning and notices a dead bee on the roof of the entrance below his room window. The narrator realizes that death does not simply equal 'quietness', but that there is often a great suffering before dying that comes with one's instinct to survive and avoid death - "It was terrible to think that this suffering lay before the quiet I was after".