In 1934 Nakano Shigeharu (1902 – 79), a Marxist writer and key figure in the Japanese proletarian literature movement since the mid-1920s, renounced his ties with the Japan Communist Party by way of vowing not to participate in social movements, an act known in Japanese as tenkô. It was a time when a large number of Marxists committed tenkô under increasingly heavy state suppression of leftists. The most common English rendering of the term tenkô is “ideological conversion.” While apt for many cases, this does not adequately describe Nakano's case because he did not convert to an alternate ideological position. Through a close reading of two of his works, “Suzuki, Miyakoyama, Yasojima” (1935) and “The Novelist Who Cannot Write a Novel” (“Shôsetsu no kakenu shôsetsuka,” 1936), this article investigates the “position” Nakano turned “to” and the critical potency of his thinking and writing from there.

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