• Home
  • Program Activities
  • Library
  • Publications
  • Calendar of Events

[japan@ihj] Contending with Meian (Light and Dark): A Public Conversation between John Nathan and Mizumura Minae


  • Date: Friday, September 21, 2012, 7:00 pm-
  • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
  • Grant: U.S. Embassy, Tokyo
  • Language: English/Japanese (with simultaneous interpretation)
  • Admission: Free (reservations required)

Natsume Soseki’s Meian (Light and Dark) is widely acknowledged as his masterpiece even though it was incomplete at the time of his death in 1916. John Nathan, who is just finishing a new translation of this difficult, enigmatic work, and Mizumura Minae, who launched her career as a novelist in 1990 with Light and Dark Continued, will approach the novel from a variety of angles, including its importance in twentieth century Japanese literature and as a work of world literature and the challenges it poses the reader and, particularly, the translator.

John Nathan

John NathanJohn Nathan, Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializes in twentieth-century Japanese literature, comparative studies in the novels of Japan, England, and America, Japanese cinema, and the theory and practice of translation. His published works include a critical biography of novelist Yukio Mishima, a behind-the-scenes portrait of the Sony Corporation, a study of the changing social landscape in postwar Japan, and a memoir. Professor Nathan is also an Emmy award-winning documentary film maker. His translations of Kenzaburo Oe are widely credited with having helped Oe win the Nobel Prize. Before coming to UCSB, he was professor of Japanese literature at Princeton University. He has been a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, and a Guggenheim Fellow.

Mizumura Minae

Mizumura MinaeMizumura Minae was born in Tokyo and moved to the United States at age twelve. After studying French Literature at Yale, she came back to Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Foundation. She has taught modern Japanese literature at Princeton, the University of Michigan, and Stanford. Her books include Zoku meian (Light and Dark Continued, 1990 Minister of Education Award for New Artists), Honkaku shosetsu (A Real Novel, a retelling of Jane Eyre, 2002 Yomiuri Prize for Literature), Nihongo ga horobiru toki (Fall of the Japanese Language in the Age of English, 2008 Kobayashi Hideo Award), and the recently published Shimbun Shosetsu: Haha no Isan (Newspaper Serialized Novel: Heritage of a Mother, 2012).