Photo: Catarina Axelsson/MFA
Last night we organized the first lecture activity of the newly formed Tokyo International Literary Society (TILS) at the Alfred Nobel Auditorium of the Swedish Embassy. The lecturer was the renown authority on Japanese literature, Dr. Donald Keene. It was truly an historic moment. Dr, Keene spoke about his encounters and friendship with writers like Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Mishima Yukio, Abe Kôbô and Ôe Kenzaburô. He also spoke with sadness in his eyes about his old friend and former Minister of Education Nagai Michio.
Listening to Donald Keene is not only informative and fascinating. He came to Japan right after the war and walked into what he called “the golden age of Japanese literature”. Since then he has written about and introduced Japanese literature to the rest of the world, from early ages until modern times. To have Dr. Keene as the first speaker of TILS was a true privilege.
The purpose of TILS is to introduce Japanese literature to the foreign community in Japan and world literature to Japanese nationals. If there is a writer from, say, Europe, visiting Japan, the TILS will try to invite her/him to give a lecture. TILS will also invite Japanese writers to talk on a regular basis. If you wish to know more about TILS please contact the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo.