Kitamura Tōkoku (1868-1894), as is well known, adapted Manfred in his Hōrai kyoku [Mt Hōrai: A Play] (1891.5). There have been, however, few studies that tried to prove the influence of Manfred upon Tōkoku’s critical essays. The purpose of this study is to examine the meaning of the reception of Manfred in Tōkoku’s essay ‘Shinki-myōhen wo ronzu’ [An Essay on the Changing Mind] (1892.9); an essay in which Tōkoku can be said to have revealed how he himself became a Christian.
This essay of Tōkoku’s discussed how Mongaku, a Buddhist of the medieval period, changed his mind. Tōkoku adapted some images from Manfred and used them to represent Mongaku's changing mind. Firstly, Tōkoku absorbed from Manfred the image of the internal conflict between ‘deity’ and ‘dust’ and developed it into a necessary condition of the changing mind. Secondly, Tōkoku applied almost directly the image of Manfred to Mongaku before he had changed his mind. Thirdly, Tōkoku intentionally presented the image of Mongaku after changing his mind as an inverse image of Manfred, in which Tōkoku probably implied the image of the repenting Christian.
These results lead us to the conclusion that in this religious essay of Tōkoku’s, he intended to describe the drastic change from Byronism to anti-Byronism as another instance of the changing mind, as represented by Manfred’s conversion or Mongaku’s repentance. We can say that Tōkoku’s reception of Manfred in this essay would indicate his love-hate relationship with Byronism.
Abe Tomoji's Hoshū (1973) is an unfinished novel dealing with the Japanese philosopher Miki Kiyoshi's death in prison in 1945. The reason Abe cast Miki as the hero of his novel is because Abe regarded Miki as a symbol of modern personality with its egocentric tendencies.
Abe had already displayed an interest in such symbolic figures in his critical biography Byron (1948). In addition to Miki, Lord Byron was also a symbol of modern personality for Abe; Abe sometimes modeled Miki's personality on that of Manfred's, ‘a mental portrait of Byron,' in Hoshū.
Miki's personality in Hoshū, however, does not always correspond to Manfred's. Abe portrayed Miki as a person with a strong will for life. Such a personality differs dramatically from that of Manfred's, whose egocentrism caused his death. Essentially, Miki in Hoshū managed to reject the Byronic egocentrism which leads to nihilism.
It is in D. H. Lawrence's humanism that Abe discovered a possibility for overcoming the Byronic egocentrism as a ‘disease in modern civilization'. Abe contrasted the Byronic nihilistic egocentrism with Lawrence's vital humanism in Byron, and one image of Miki's strong will for life in Hoshū comes from Lawrence's The Man Who Died.
Given all this evidence, we can conclude that Abe imagined a possibility of overcoming “modernity” in the textual site of contact between Miki, Byron, and Lawrence in Hoshū