Harp of Burma
|Series:||Unesco collection of contemporary works|
Harp of Burma is Japan's haunting answer to Germany's well-known requiem for the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front.
Winner of the prestigious Mainichi Shuppan Bunkasho prize, and the subject of an acclaimed film by Ichikawa Kon, Harp of Burma portrays a company of Japanese troops who are losing a desperate campaign against British forces in the tropical jungles of Burma. The young soldiers discover that the trials of war involve more than just opposing the enemy. The foreign climate and terrain, the strange behavior of foreigners, the constant struggle to overcome homesickness and nostalgia, and the emotions stirred by the senselessness of war—all of these forces, new and baffling to the soldiers, contribute to their distress and disorientation.
In the midst of these overwhelming challenges, they discover the power of music to make even the toughest situations tolerable—through their commander's ability to lead them in song. Even though they face the inevitability of defeat, singing the songs of their homeland revives their will to live.
Through the story of these men and of the music that saw them through the war, Takeyama presents thought-provoking questions about political hostilities and the men who unleash them. Harp of Burma is Japan's classic novel of pathos and compassion in the midst of senseless warfare.
Harp of Burma was made into a critically acclaimed movie (The Burmese Harp) by the celebrated director Ichikawa Kon.
Michio Takeyama (1903 - 1984) spent his early years in Seoul, Korea, then a Japanese colony. Primarily an essayist and a scholar of German literature, he was for a time professor of German at elite universities in Tokyo. Takeyama won the prestigious Mainichi Shuppan Bunkasho prize for the Harp of Burma, and its publication propelled him to fame.