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On Hani Gorō’s exploration of the renaissance

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This essay explores discussions of the Renaissance in Japan thorough the lens of one prominent Japanese Marxist intellectual/historian, Hani Gorō. During the interwar/wartime period, the Renaissance became a popular subject for Japanese intellectuals. While some tried to apply the Renaissance idea to the Japanese context to re-define the country’s national identity or historical development, others explored the importance of the European Renaissance as a worthy source for modernity. It was in this context that Hani also wrote several pieces on the Italian Renaissance and intervened in the general discussion of the Japanese Renaissance. As government oppression of Marxist intellectuals intensified in the 1930s, Hani pursued his critical intellectual activity through these works of nuanced resistance. Hani’s work during this period is distinguished by its interdisciplinary range and volume. This article examines Hani’s writings on the Italian Renaissance and related pieces on Tokugawa intellectual history. I examine Hani’s work to reveal the unique characteristics of his approach to the Renaissance, in which he focuses on the contradictions within it, and I explore the implications of his historical research for his own time.

Keywords: Marxism; National Learning; Renaissance; intellectual history; modernity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 20, 2023

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