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Resources for Japanese Language Learners: Literature 文学

This guide introduces students learning Japanese, at undergrad and graduate level, to resources at the library and online that will help them with their language study.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

Penn collects a lot of modern and contemporary literature (known as 近代 and 現代 in Japanese, respectively). "Modern" goes back to the Meiji period and can be very difficult to read, but our short stories, novels, and essays from the late 20th and 21st centuries are a good way to challenge yourself to learn more Japanese! (Note that most contemporary literature does not have furigana.) You can find literature in the stacks of Van Pelt East Asia, or see our literary magazines for short stories and serialized works.

Translations into English

You can find translations of Japanese literature into English (and French!) on the third floor of Van Pelt, east side of the library. (Turn right out of the main elevators and go all the way to the end.) Japanese language and literature are call numbers PL700s-PL800s.

Browsing in the Stacks

If you don't know what you're looking for, try coming to the library and just browsing around! You can find literature in these call numbers:

  • Early PL 800s - Modern Literature
  • Later PL 800s - Contemporary Literature

Note that many of the contemporary novels are now stored off site in LIBRA, so you'll have to request them via the Franklin catalog and have them delivered to circulation for you.

Literary Prizes

Penn collects many prize-winning novels, including the series 太宰治賞, 川端康成文学賞, and 芥川賞. (The latter two series have ended, although the prizes continue to be awarded every year.) We also have a series of famous prize winners called 文学賞受賞・名作集成. Some other well known literary prizes include the following, where Wikipedia lists their winners:

Online Resources