2010 Najita Distinguished Lecture

Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Laureate
"A Novelist Re-Reads Kaitokudo"

March 4, 2010
Poster | Program
Video: Japanese
Video: English Translation


In this lecture, Kenzaburō Ōe, recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, discusses the contemporary relevance of Tetsuo Najita’s approach to intellectual history, including Najita’s Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan: The Kaitokudō Merchant Academy of Osaka (1997), a landmark study of the rise of an independent school of economic and moral philosophy in eighteenth-century Japan.

Mr. Ōe spoke in Japanese, with simultaneous English translation provided by University of Chicago Associate Professor Michael Bourdaghs. For ease of viewing, we have edited the videos so you may select either the original Japanese version or the English translation.

About the Speaker

Born in 1935 in rural Shikoku, Ōe is one of modern Japan’s most respected novelists and public intellectuals. He began publishing fiction while still a university student and in 1958 was awarded the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary award. Since then, he has published many celebrated novels and stories, including A Per­sonal Matter (1964), The Silent Cry (1967), Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (1969), The Pinch Runner Memorandum (1976), and Somer­sault (1999). His most recent novel, Suishi (Death by Drowning), was published in Japan to great acclaim in late 2009. His works have been translated into many languages, and in 1994 he became the second Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In addition to his fiction, Ōe has throughout his career provided a model for the engaged intellectual. He has written widely on the dan­gers of nuclear proliferation, on Japan’s history of military aggression, and in defense of Article 9, the peace clause of Japan’s postwar consti­tution.