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Satō Haruo

Entry updated 21 April 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1892-1964) Japanese author and poet, very much part of the mainstream literary establishment, remembered in sf terms for an early experiment in Dystopia and fantasies that prefigured those of dedicated genre authors such as Jūza Unno. Satō was only sixteen when his first work was published, a poem in the literary magazine Myōjō. He soon attained celebrity as a poet and occasional critic, and caused a literary stir in 1913 with a public attack on the quality of the Japanese translation of Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. He left Keiō University without graduating in 1914.

"Nonchalant Kiroku" ["An Account of Nonchalant"] (1929 Kaizō) is set in a 29th century Japanese metropolis (see Cities), extending thirty stories both above and below the surface. Most citizens subsist in coffin-like capsules Underground (see also Keeps), nourished on gas instead of food, while propaganda broadcasts exhort them to voluntarily help ease Overpopulation. The teenage protagonist volunteers to be transformed into a rose in order to see life on the surface, which he briefly does, before his flowerpot is accidentally dropped from a ledge.

He is credited as the translator of works originally by Italian, German, Chinese and English authors, although his mastery of only the latter two languages has been confirmed. These works included The Vampyre (April 1819 New Monthly Magazine; 1819 chap; trans 1936) by John Polidori, published in Japan as by Byron, Carlo Collodi's Le avventure di Pinocchio (1880 Il Giornale dei Bambini; 1883; trans 1925), and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs (1869; trans 1957). He died of a heart attack at his home while recording the latest instalment of his Radio show Isshūkan Jijoden ["Weekly Biography"] (1964). [JonC]

Haruo Satō

born Shingū, Wakayama, Japan: 9 April 1892

died Tokyo: 6 May 1964

works (selected)

about the author

  • Angela Yiu, "A New Map of Hell: Sato Haruo's Dystopian Fiction" (March 2009 Japan Forum 21:1) [pp53-73: mag/]


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