randomly flipped through the fiction and essays in the book. A few pieces were by foreign authors, but most were by well-known modern Japanese writers—Ryuˉnosuke Akutagawa, Junichiroˉ Tanizaki, Kobo Abe, and the like. And appended to each work—all excerpts, except for a handful of very short stories—were some questions. Most of these questions were totally meaningless. With meaningless questions, it’s hard (or impossible) to determine logically if an answer is correct or not. I doubted whether even the authors of the selections themselves would have been able to decide. Things like “What can you glean from this passage about the writer’s stance toward war?” or “When the author describes the waxing and waning of the moon, what sort of symbolic effect is created?” You could give almost any answer. If you said that the description of the waxing and waning of the moon was simply a description of the waxing and waning of the moon, and created no symbolic effect, no one could say with certainty that your answer was wrong. Of course there was a relatively reasonable answer, but I didn’t really think that arriving at a relatively reasonable answer was one of the goals of studying literature.