“A wealth of material . . . . [Figal] offers a thorough analysis . . . . Figal has clearly rendered a service.” — Lisette Gebhardt , Social Science Japan Journal
“[Figal] shows the ways in which the Meiji government was engaged to suppress, denigrate and manipulate folk belief as part of the modernization of Japan’s culture, establishing a new Japanese spirit embodied by the newly constituted emperor.” — Japan Quarterly
“Figal has written an important and unique book that imaginatively juxtaposes a number of diverse thinkers linked together by their entanglements with modernity and what they call fushigi. . . . [T]he elegant yet accessible style in which the book is organized and written will make this worthwhile reading for anyone interested in modernisms of the fantastic throughout the world.” — Takashi Fujitani , American Historical Review
“Figal’s thesis is intriguing, and the issues he raises on the political nature of fantasy are important. Succinct summaries of often difficult philosophical concepts are well done. . . .” — Adam Kabat , Monumenta Nipponica
"[F]ascinating . . . . [A] worthy and compelling effort . . . . Figal’s book is without question an important contribution to the intellectual history of the Meiji period and a necessary counterpoint to the standard recitations of progressive reforms. It effectively demonstrates the significance of fantastic and mysterious images during times of transition."
— Scott Schnell , Asian Folklore Studies
“Gerald Figal’s powerful study persuades us that superstition, monsters, and the fantastic are at the very heart of Japanese modernity—an argument conveyed in splendid fashion. This is an exciting, fresh, and aptly provocative work.” — James Fujii, University of California at Irvine
“Through the transmutation of ghosts, Figal brings out one of the central problematics of modern nation-states: what to do about pasts that are simultaneously evidence of backwardness and integral to the make-up of the nation. All scholars interested in Japan, historically and culturally, should read Civilization and Monsters.” — Stefan Tanaka, University of California, San Diego