Introduction & Overview of Han's Crime by Shiga Naoya

Shiga Naoya
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Han's Crime Summary & Study Guide Description

Han's Crime Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Shiga Naoya's story "Han's Crime" first appeared in 1913 in Shirakaba (White Birch), a literary magazine founded by Shiga and a group of wealthy university students. "Han's Crime" was well-received when it was first published; several critics considered it an almost perfect short story, saying it exemplified Shiga's sparse, psychologically probing style. Told almost entirely through dialogue, the story attempts to unravel the truth behind the violent death of Han's wife, a young circus performer. It seems clear that Han has killed his wife in the midst of a knife-throwing act; he and his colleagues are called in before the judge to testify. The judge's duty is to determine whether Han's crime was premeditated (murder) or accidental (manslaughter). As the story progresses, however, what at first seems clear becomes more difficult to pin down. In his confession, Han reveals that he himself does not know whether he committed murder or was simply involved in a tragic accident. If Han does not know his own motivations, he suggests, they must remain unknown to those who would judge him. After listening to Han's testimony, the judge reaches his verdict, finding Han "innocent."

Primarily known as a writer of short fiction, Shiga occupies a central position in modern Japanese literary history, even though he did not publish very many works. During his lifetime, critics went so far as to call him a "god of literature." One contemporary even asserted that Shiga was the only living writer whose works had a classical quality that revealed something new each time they were read. Shiga and his fellow Shirakaba authors developed a form of literature called shishosetsu, or "I-Novel," which resembles Western confessional literature to some extent, but also, according to Edward Fowler, seeks "to transcribe the world" as the author experienced it and "to authorize a self . . . in a society unwilling to acknowledge the individual as a viable social unit." Critics note "Han's Crime" in particular for its psychological acuity and intellectual honesty.

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This section contains 328 words
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Han's Crime from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.