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Before the Dawn
What Happened before "Before the Dawn?"
Date:31, Mar, 2020
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
About our introductory articles


"Before the Dawn" (Yoake-mae) is a historical novel written by Shimazaki Toson (1872 - 1943). Shimazaki is a Japanese popular novelist of naturalism, and the novel is (probably) very popular as his last work. He already became a historical personage who left his mark on history. It is supposed many people heard his name in Japanese literary history classes. Didn't you?

Anyway, I guess we seldom need to mention about the impression. The novel's value was almost set. Of course, I don't deny it is still important to read it actually and to have your thoughts. But I think it is more important to first know what he was and how he lived his life before writing his last work. You have to get what Shimazaki Toson was. And I'm mentioning about his life.

He was born in 1872 Gifu. His real name is Haruki. Toson is his pen name.

When he was 20 years old, he became a teacher in a girls' school. Next year, he retired since he had an affair with a student. When he was 25 years old, he made his debut as a poet. And then, he became well-known in the Japanese literary world. He privately published a novel "Hakai" when he was 34 years old. However, there is no rose without a thorn. In his 30's, he lost his first wife and three daughters on end. He and his sons (and his fourth-born daughter) were left at their wits end. Who could be a house-keeper for his family? Then, his niece came to his house for domestic help.

When he was 40 years old, he had an affair with the niece, which made her pregnant. Oh my! He was absolutely at a loss, and flied to France. 3 years later, he came back to Japan, and had relations with her again. It was nothing but a blind alley. He was sunk. In 1919, he wrote and released a novel "Shin-sei" which nakedly described his relations with the niece. What did he think? I don't know. The only fact was that she had trouble by the novel. She felt pretty hard and finally moved to Taiwan.

No one knows what he felt. He (maybe) felt so glad since removing a trouble. Some will pity the niece. Anyway, when he was 50 years old, he started a ladies magazine. And he fell in love with Shizuko, a female editor who had worked for the magazine. He got married with her in 1928 when he was 56 years old. All was right with the world. And next year, in high spirits, he started to write a serialized novel whose model was (said to be) his father. Needless to say, it was "Before the Dawn."

about Before the Dawn

・Written by Shimazaki Toson
・Published by Shincho-sha





 

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