SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Overcome by the Present: The Tyranny of the Immediate in the Literature of Takahashi Gen’ichirō

Takahashi Genichiro
Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS)

Date: 27 November 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 27 November 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

Type of Event: Seminar


In his fiction, Takahashi Gen’ichirō often portrays crises of contemporary life where characters do not identify with shared ideologies or communities, resorting to repetitive and violent actions to survive their empty daily existences. This talk argues that a central factor for such crises can be defined as “immediacy.” Bearing points of contact with François Hartog’s theory of “presentism”, immediacy describes a literary theme where characters concentrate only on what is immediate, directly relatable to their everyday life, and act repeatedly only to preserve their reality in a never-ending present. As they concentrate only on their localised realities, the characters feel isolated from others, and may find a way outside of the never-ending present only by rebuilding a sense of collective belonging. Across various novels and short stories appeared since the mid-1990s, this talk analyses how Takahashi articulates immediacy. In doing so, it also aims to illuminate how this theme situates itself vis-à-vis  contemporaneous debates on the end of temporality and of literature, thus constituting a point for reflection on the current and future possibilities of the craft.

Speaker Biography

Dr Filippo Cervelli is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature at SOAS, University of London. His research is broadly concerned with representations of individual and social crises in contemporary Japanese literature and popular culture. He completed his PhD in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford in 2018, with a thesis exploring immediacy and the emphasis on the present in contemporary Japanese novels, manga and anime.


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Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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