BURNS Susan L.
- International Research Center for Japanese Studies
- Nichibunken Japan review : Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (ISSN:09150986)
- vol.16, pp.191-211, 2004-01-01
Following the promulgation of the 1931 “leprosy prevention law,” Japan’s leprosarium system expanded rapidly, and the number of confinees almost tripled between 1930 and 1940. During this decade there was a new fascination with what came to be termed “leprosy literature,” the short stories, essays, and poetry authored by sufferers of leprosy living within the leprosaria. Ho?jo? Tamio, the best known author of “leprosy literature,” published a series of works in literary journals, and a number of collections of “leprosy literature” were published for a general readership. This paper explores the phenomenon of “leprosy literature” by examining the social and cultural context of its production during the 1930s and its role in legitimating the confinement system. This history of leprosy literature is used to reflect upon a contemporary development, the recent publication of the Hansenbyo bungaku zenshu (Collected Works of Hansen Disease Literature).