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Secondary art and the two-story house: Kuwabara Takeo and the comparative imagination in midcentury Japan, 1935-1947.

Bronson, Adam (2021) 'Secondary art and the two-story house: Kuwabara Takeo and the comparative imagination in midcentury Japan, 1935-1947.', Modern intellectual history., 18 (2). pp. 451-473.


This article focuses on the life and ideas of Kuwabara Takeo, a cultural critic and scholar of French literature who became renowned for his 1946 critique of haiku as a “secondary art” in comparison with the novel. By reconstructing Kuwabara’s intellectual trajectory from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s, I show how this famous essay was in part an effort to respond to Karl Löwith’s famous critique of Japanese intellectuals. Löwith argued Japanese intellectuals were insufficiently critical towards their own culture, due to the way that they compartmentalized practices and ideas associated with either Japanese culture or Western civilization. Kuwabara resisted such tendencies through the practice of cross-cultural comparison. His work gained encouragement from and responded to Löwith’s critique in a way that illuminates the role comparisons played in the intellectual culture of mid-twentieth century Japan.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Modern intellectual history. This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Cambridge University Press.
Date accepted:18 December 2019
Date deposited:16 January 2020
Date of first online publication:19 February 2020
Date first made open access:16 January 2020

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