By Doris G. Bargen
On September thirteen, 1912, the day of Emperor Meiji’s funeral, normal Nogi Maresuke devoted ritual suicide by way of seppuku (disembowelment). It was once an act of behind schedule atonement that paid a debt of honor incurred thirty-five years previous. The respected army hero’s spouse joined in his act of junshi ("following one’s lord into death"). The violence in their double suicide surprised the country. What had impelled the final and his spouse, at the threshold of a brand new period, to hotel so greatly, so dramatically, to this forbidden, anachronistic perform? The state used to be divided. there have been those that observed the suicides as a heroic confirmation of the samurai code; others came upon them a reason for embarrassment, an indication that Japan had now not but crossed the cultural line setting apart culture from modernity.While acknowledging the nation's sharply divided response to the Nogis’ junshi as an invaluable indicator of the event’s seismic effect on eastern tradition, Doris G. Bargen within the first half her ebook demonstrates that the deeper importance of Nogi’s motion has to be sought in his own historical past, enmeshed because it was once within the tumultuous politics of the Meiji interval. Suicidal Honor strains Nogi’s army occupation (and own travail) during the armed struggles of the collapsing sh?gunate and during the 2 wars of imperial conquest in which Nogi performed an important position: the Sino-Japanese battle (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese conflict (1904–1905). It additionally probes underneath the political to discover the non secular origins of formality self-sacrifice in cultures as diverse as historic Rome and today’s Nigeria. obvious during this context, Nogi’s demise was once homage to the divine emperor. yet what used to be the importance of Nogi’s ready thirty-five years ahead of he provided himself as a human sacrifice to a lifeless instead of dwelling deity? to reply to this question, Bargen delves deeply and with nice perception into the tale of Nogi’s conflicted profession as an army hero who longed to be a relaxed guy of letters.In the second one half Suicidal Honor Bargen turns to the intense impression of the Nogis’ deaths on of Japan’s maximum writers, Mori ?gai and Natsume S?seki. ?gai’s ancient fiction, written within the fast aftermath of his friend’s junshi, is a profound meditation at the importance of formality suicide in a time of historic transition. tales comparable to "The Sakai Incident" ("Sakai jiken") seem in a brand new gentle and with vastly more advantageous resonance in Bargen's interpretation. In S?seki’s masterpiece, Kokoro, Sensei, the protagonist, refers back to the emperor’s dying and his general’s junshi prior to taking his personal existence. students repeatedly point out those references, yet Bargen demonstrates convincingly the uncanny ways that S?seki’s agonized reaction to Nogi’s suicide constructions the complete novel.By exploring the old and literary legacies of Nogi, ?gai, and S?seki from an interdisciplinary viewpoint, Suicidal Honor illuminates Japan’s lengthy and painful transition from the idealized heroic international of samurai tradition to the mundane anxieties of modernity. it's a research that may fascinate experts within the fields of jap literature, historical past, and faith, and somebody looking a deeper knowing of Japan’s warrior tradition.