“Healthy” versus “Unhealthy”: Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke’s Criticism

Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke

Foregrounded the later debate of “authentic” vs. “inauthentic,” the renowned Marxist literary critic Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke 平林初之輔 (1892-1931) first took notice of a peculiar trend in Japanese detective fiction using the terms the “healthy school” (kenzen-ha 健全派) and the “unhealthy school” (fukenzen-ha 不健全派) in in “Tantei shōsetsu-dan no shokeikō” (「探偵小説壇の諸傾向」; English: Various Tendencies of Detective Fiction Circles, 1926). While Hirabayashi shows a certain respect for the innate attraction toward things unhealthy and morbid, he nevertheless criticizes the predominance of what he calls the unhealthy school, in which investigations of the pathological psyche take precedence over romance in the realistic world. Referring to major writers at the time such as Edogawa Rampo 江戸川乱歩, Kozakai Fuboku 小酒井不木, and Yokomizo Seishi 横溝正史, he maintains that their reliance on unhealthy things is a sign of the degeneration of the genre. (Saito, 70)
*Click here to read Hirabayashi’s article “Various Tendencies of Detective Fiction Circles” in Japanese.