The Detective Fiction of Oguri Mushitarō. Beyond the Orthodox and the Weird

Andrzej Świrkowski
2021 Silva Iaponicarum  
Oguri Mushitarō (1901-1946 was a popular fiction writer whose main period of activity were the 1930s. Renowned for his idiosyncratic and often impenetrable style, labyrinthine plots and otherworldly logic, he never achieved the popularity of his contemporaries Edogawa Rampo or Yokomizo Seishi. In fact the eminent detective literature historian Itō Hideo dismisses one of Oguri's novels as "unfathomable" and "not for the casual reader". In spite of this, in the last few decades Oguri's works have
more » ... been reappraised, with his most famous novel Kokushikan satsujin jiken [the plague house murder case] (1934) placing 14th in the Shūkan Bunshun magazine's recent poll of 100 best Japanese mystery novels. In this paper I look at the novels that feature the detective Norimizu Rintarō, compare the works of Oguri to those of other mystery writers in Japan and abroad and try to argue that Oguri's originality lies in his unwillingness to adapt either to the honkaku (the detective novel 'proper') or the henkaku (the 'unorthodox' mystery) schools that formed the early Showa era mystery fiction literary scene.
doi:10.12775/sijp.2020.56-59.18 fatcat:5rw5rkyrdjdylhqhl26wlkxi7q