Suicidal Honor: General Nogi and the Writings of Mori Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki

Front Cover
University of Hawaii Press, 2006 - History - 289 pages
0 Reviews
On September 13, 1912, the day of Emperor Meiji's funeral, General Nogi Maresuke committed ritual suicide by seppuku (disembowelment). The revered military hero's wife joined in his act of junshi (following one's lord into death). The violence of their double suicide shocked the nation. Doris Bargen, in the first half of her book, demonstrates that the deeper significance of Nogi's action must be sought in his personal history, enmeshed as it was in the tumultuous politics of the Meiji period. In the second half of Suicidal Honor, Bargen turns to the extraordinary influence of the Nogis' deaths on two of Japan's greatest writers, Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki. Ogai's historical fiction is a profound meditation on the significance of ritual suicide in a time of historical transition.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Sacrifice and SelfSacrifice
The Japanese Custom of Junshi
Nogi in History
Nogis Life Sentences
The Sword and the Brush
Nogi in Literature
Mori ďgais Junshi Stories
Junshi Postponed
A Spectacle for the Lords Successor
The Perplexities of Permission
Mori ďgais Sakai jiken Rebellion and Martyrdom
Natsume S˘sekis Kokoro Living as Though Dead
Last Stands in Ancient Rome and Modern Japan

Anything But Seppuku

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 16 - In the open space around the body of the king they bury one of his concubines, first killing her by strangling, and also his cup-bearer, his cook, his groom, his lacquey, his messenger, some of his horses, firstlings of all his other possessions, and some golden cups; for they use neither silver nor brass.
Page 22 - When a man dies, there have been cases of people sacrificing themselves by strangulation, or of strangling others by way of sacrifice, or of compelling the dead man's horse to be sacrificed, or of burying valuables in the grave in honour of the dead, or of cutting off the hair, and stabbing the thighs and pronouncing an eulogy on the dead (while in this condiXXv. 32. tion). Let all such old customs be entirely discontinued. A certain book says : — ' No gold or silver, no silk brocades, and no coloured...
Page 18 - It is a very painful thing to force those whom one has loved in life to follow him in death. Though it be an ancient custom, why follow it if it is bad ? From this time forward, take counsel so as to put a stop to the following of the dead.
Page 18 - For several days they died not, but wept and wailed day and night. At last they died and rotted. Dogs and crows gathered and ate them.

About the author (2006)

Doris G. Bargen is associate professor of Japanese literature and culture and director of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Bibliographic information