Columbia Library columns (v.45(1996))

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  v.45,no.1(1996:Spring): Page 21  

The Abe Kobo Collection

Amy Vladeck Heinrich



Lhe self-portrait in the Starr East
Asian Library's Abe Kobo Collection is a photograph by the writer of his
own shadow on the ground in front of him. In many ways the writer is
indeed as elusive as this portrait makes him seem. Abe Kobo
(1924-1993) was the author of many well-known novels, including some
from which famous films were made, sticb as Sii))a no onna (Wonum in
the Dunes), llako otol<o (Box Man), and Moetsuhita chizu (The Rtiined
Map). In addition to his novels and essays, Abe was a noted plaj'wright
and the founder of the Abe Kobo Sttidio, which experimented witli a
method of developing and producing plays that relied on the company
as a whole, tmder the direction of the ^vriter/director, to contribute to
shaping a dramatic presentation. Abe referred to himself as a "gtiide-
book" for the actors involved in a production.'

When Abe died in early 1993, the Abe Kobo Collection was estab¬
lished in his memory on the basis of many materials donated by his close
friend, University and Shinchb Professor of Japanese Literattire
Emeritus Donald Keene. Abe's association with Columbia University in¬
cludes his receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1975—
the only Japanese writer to be so honored. The materials in the Slarr Abe
Kobo Collection include letters from Abe to Keene stretching from the
early 1960s through the early 1990s; signed first editions of his ptiblished

  v.45,no.1(1996:Spring): Page 21