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The I-novel is a genre much maligned and misunderstood, but its lasting effects on Japanese literature are undeniable.

To many literary critics, it is an outdated, narrow genre confined to a specific time and place at the beginning of the 20th century. Yet I-novels (shishōsetsu or watakushi shōsetsu) provided a cultural bridge for early 20th century writers to cross beyond Confucian ideals of highbrow literature into a landscape that allowed modern fiction to flourish.

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