The Life and Times of Shimazaki Toson

The Kiso RoadWilliam E. Naff, the distinguished scholar of Japanese literature widely known and highly regarded for his eloquent translations of the writings of Shimazaki Toson (1872–1943), spent the last years of his life writing a full-length biography of Toson. Virtually completed at the time of his death, The Kiso Road: The Life and Times of Shimazaki Toson provides a rich and colorful account of this canonic novelist who, along with Natsume Soseki and Mori Ogai, formed the triumvirate of writers regarded as giants in Meiji Japan, all three of whom helped establish the parameters of modern Japanese literature. Professor Naff’s biography skillfully places Toson in the context of his times and discusses every aspect of his career and personal life, as well as introducing in detail a number of his important but as yet untranslated works.

The Kiso Road sets Toson’s long and eventful life in the context of its historical and cultural moment, providing a depth of coverage that cannot be matched by any of the existing English-language books on Toson. As Naff argues, Toson is simultaneously an extraordinary and an ordinary figure, and tracing through his career provides a useful window onto an entire era of Japanese history. This is an important and authoritative book, an original contribution, and the culmination of a life’s work.” —Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago

November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3218-6 / $49.00 (CLOTH)

Also available: William Naff’s award-winning translation of Toson’s classic novel of Meiji Japan, Before the Dawn