2016 年 58 巻 p. 69-81
This paper examines the representation of sheep in Abe Kōbō's literature and its relationship with his colonial experience and sheep raising in Manchuria.
In Japan, there were almost no sheep until the Meiji Era. The government began importing and domesticating sheep to produce woollen uniforms for the military. Wool production was also encouraged in Japanese colonies during the war. In addition to the knowledge of sheep acquired from Chinese and European cultures, social and cultural phenomena in Japan influenced the representation of sheep in modern Japanese literature.
Symbolic images of sheep are abundant in Abe Kōbō's works. In “Shijin no Shōgai" (The Life of a Poet) (1951), an old woman metamorphoses into a jacket made from menyō (sheep). “Mōchō" (Cecum) (1955), “Yōchō Jinrui" (Human beings with ceca of sheep) (1962) and Midori iro no sutokkingu (Green Stockings) (1974) all describe organ transplants from sheep to humans.
Metamorphoses into animals and vegetables can often be seen in Abe's early novels; however, sheep have not been the focus of interpretations of his literature. By analyzing his background as a repatriate from Manchuria, we see that the depiction of sheep reflects his nostalgia for pastoral landscapes in the colony and his knowledge of sheep as strategic material in the wartime regime.