Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Asian Studies


Communication and the Arts


Shigeru Osuka

Committee Member

Deborah Brown

Committee Member

Jeffrey Gray

Committee Member

Edwin Leung


Nakajima Atsushi, Romanticism, Taoism


Abstract Nakajima Atsushi (1909-1942) is an erudite writer who has combined Eastern and Western thoughts in his short stories. This thesis focuses on the influences of Romanticism and Taoism on his writings. Nakajima is skeptical of civilization and yearns for a natural and simple existence. The concepts central to Nakajima's works as articulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Lao Tzu are introduced in chapter l. Chapter 2 examines Nakajima's upbringing and the influences of his family, education, and work on him, as well as his thoughts revealed in his autobiographical fiction. His nostalgia for the past and nature, which concurs with Romantic and Taoist ideas, is discussed in chapter 3. Chapter 4 assesses Nakajima's experience in the South Seas and his anti­ colonial sentiments that arise out of his affinity toward the natives. Chapter 5 is an analysis of Nakajima's Taoist allegory and historical fiction that represent his images of the ideal man. In conclusion, the philosophical ideas presented in Nakajima's short stories are reviewed in chapter 6. Nakajima's short stories are also contrasted with the writings of Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu, Plato, Anatole France, Giacomi Leopardi, and Robert Louis Stevenson in order to identify similarities in the Taoist and Romantic thoughts from which Nakajima has extracted. Nakajima aspired to write literature that portrays the problems of existence and humanity that are revealed through the struggles of his characters. He often formulates stories based on parables and well-known tales and heightens the plot with new twists. Nakajima's tales regarding the distant past and foreign lands have not aged, but instead allow readers to experience history as lived by the characters. A translation of Nakajima's "Kamereon Nikki" (Chameleon Diary) is presented in the appendix.