Essence of Novels (小説神髄)

"Essence of Novels" is a literary critique by Shoyo TSUBOUCHI. It was published by Shorindo from 1885 to 1886.

In the first volume, Tsubouchi stated that the essence of novels is to describe human nature and description of the society and public morals should come next, and in the second volume he showed specific approaches.

Japanese literature in the early Meiji Period can be classified in two main categories: gesaku literature (literary work of a playful, mocking, joking, silly or frivolous nature) literature based on gesaku in the Edo period and political novels to introduce Western thoughts and customs and enlighten the readers. However, in "Essence of Novels" Tsubouchi argued that literature should exclude moral and utilitarian aspects and focus on objective descriptions to emphasize psychological realism, and his opinion significantly contributed the birth of modern literature in Japan.