Vita Sexualis: A Novel
This classic and controversial work of Japanese literature presents a rare look at Meiji-ara Japanese sexuality.
Though banned three weeks after its publication in 1909, Vita Sexualis is far more than a prurient erotic novel. The narrator, a professor of philosophy, wrestles with issues of sexual desire, sex education, and the proper place of sensuality. He tells the story of his own journey into sexual awareness, spanning fifteen years, from his first exposure to erotic woodcuts at the age of six, to his first physical response to a woman, and his eventual encounter with a professional courtesan. Beyond being a poignant account of one boy's coming of age, Vita Sexualis is also an important record of Japan's moral struggles during the cultural upheaval of the last years of the Meiji era.
In response to the publication of Vita Sexualis, Ogai Mori was reprimanded by Japan's vice-minister of war.