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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #142: June 9, 2004

Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japanese Studies: December 2003, Vol. 23, No. 3
ISSN: 1037-1397 (Paper), 1469-9338 (Online)


Futabatei Shimei's Translations from Russian: Verbal Aspect and Narrative Perspective (pp229-238)
HIROKO (SHIMONO) COCKERILL (University of Queensland)
Although acknowledged as the founder of the modern Japanese novel, Futabatei Shimei wrote only three novels in his life. He also, however, translated numerous works from Russian literature by writers such as Turgenev, Gogol, Tolstoy, Garshin, Gorky and Andreev. The influence of these translations rivalled and at times exceeded that of his original works. His first two translations, Aibiki and Meguriai (from Turgenev's Svidanie and Tri vstrechi) were perhaps his most influential, especially with writers of the naturalist school. A prominent stylistic feature of these works is the use of '-ta' form verbs to translate all Russian past-tense verbs. Eight years after their publication Futabatei produced revised translations of the same works, under the titles Aibiki and Kigu-. While he continued to use '-ta' form verbs to translate past-tense verbs of perfective aspect, he now chose '-ru' or '-te iru' verbs for most past-tense verbs of imperfective aspect. This contrasting treatment of Russian verbs according to their aspect became a feature of all his subsequent translations, resulting in some dramatic and vivid narratives, most notably Sho-zo-ga (from Gogol's Portret).

Time, Death and the Empire: Natsume So-seki's Omoidasu koto nado (Remembrances) (pp239-250)
MARIA FLUTSCH (University of Tasmania)
This article enters the current debate about So-seki's attitude towards the Japanese government's imperialistic project through a new reading of his autobiographical piece Omoidasu koto nado (1910-1911). Julia Adeney Thomas's work on the transformations of the conceptions of nature, the body, and society in Japan from late Meiji to early Showa is applied to So-seki's treatment of these subjects. It is evident from the powerful depictions of So-seki's personal experience of a life-threatening illness that he finds the three major 'configurations' of nature in late Meiji identified by Thomas incompatible with the realities of his experience. Omoidasu koto nado pleads with the politically influential elite to whom it is addressed for a recognition of the centrality of human consciousness, personal experience and memory in the human condition. The absence of any reference to these basic features of the human being, particularly in the new ideologies whose meta-narratives scorned the personal, made them anti-human and cruel. I contend that given the socio-political context and its readership, Omoidasu koto nado is primarily an expression of So-seki's deep apprehension of, and antagonism towards, the emerging fascism of officialdom in Japan.

Romancing Food: The Gastronomic Quest in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature (pp251-264)
TOMOKO AOYAMA (University of Queensland)
This paper examines four pre-war examples of gastronomic fiction: Murai Gensai's Kuido-raku, Ko-da Rohan's 'Chinsenkai', Tanizaki Jun'ichiro-'s 'Bishoku kurabu', and Okamoto Kanoko's 'Shokuma'. Notably, these stories of gastronomic quest are not necessarily about what Brillat-Savarin called gourmandise, in contrast to gluttony and voracity. In many cases the quest goes totally against Brillat-Savarin's 'physiology' and heads towards destruction--of the body, the economy, and romantic and other relationships. The majority of pre-war Japanese gastronomic fiction seems to ignore or reject heterosexual love. The passion for food may be associated with eroticism; but the stronger that passion is, and the more ardent the gastronomic quest, the less the space that remains for romantic love affairs. In other words, 'romancing food' tends to go against, rather than favour, romantic love. I shall argue that the homosocial nature of pre-war Japanese gourmandise and literature has brought this about.

Christianity Excised: Ichikawa Kon's Fires on the Plain (pp265-275)
ERIK R. LOFGREN (Bucknell University)
Ichikawa Kon (b. 1915) adapted O-oka Sho-hei's (1909-1988) masterful anti-war novel Fires on the Plain for film in 1959. In the process, Ichikawa effected the inevitable simplifications and homogenisations of the story with the consequence that the protagonist, Tamura, was no longer besmirched with the ethical and moral stain of cannibalism. Ichikawa also muted the Christian elements in the story, a decision that has several implications for the narrative, and for understanding the actions of the protagonist in the film. This absence of Christian elements provides the framework for explaining Tamura's motives in refusing to eat human flesh, as well as justification for the shift in rhetorical stance between novel and film. The removal of the Christian sub-plot may also reflect the changing ideological stance of Japan in the post-war world order.

A Manifestation of Modernity: The Split Gaze and the Oedipalised Space of The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Mishima Yukio (pp277-291)
RIO OTOMO (La Trobe University)
This paper explores the ways in which the modernist paradigm is at work in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by focusing on its spatial demarcation--a map of the Self against the Other. The boundaries of gender in this text are firmly fixed; the Mother represents corporeality, ignorance, and profanation, while the Father represents spirituality, knowledge, and sacredness. Striving to embody the Father, the narrator is forced into the position of the brooding Son. He is unable to become a speaking subject proper, nor to slip back into the comfortable pre-symbolic domain. The paper also focuses on the narrator's gaze, which constantly splits and vacillates on different levels, being unable to obtain the unified singular perspective necessary for the constitution of the subject.

Writing the Body of the Mother: Narrative Moments in Tsushima Yu-ko, Ariyoshi Sawako and Enchi Fumiko (pp293-305)
BARBARA HARTLEY (Central Queensland University)
This discussion argues the transformative potential inherent in the corporeal experience of motherhood as represented in selected textual moments of Japanese narrative. Narratives that address the experiences of the body of the mother are informed and given substance by an intense physicality, and thus have the potential to contest processes of social inscription in addition to suggesting alternative possibilities for all readers, not just those occupying an embodied maternal space.

The discussion features brief events from the work of three writers who have written as mothers: Tsushima Yu-ko, Ariyoshi Sawako and Enchi Fumiko. In Yama o hashiru onna (1980; translated as Woman Running in the Mountains, 1991), Tsushima Yu-ko invites the reader to consider the embodied response to light of Takiko, a young pregnant woman. Emiko, the protagonist of Hishoku (Without Colour, 1967) by Ariyoshi Sawako, is the Japanese wife of an African American and has just given birth to a child. The daughter protagonist in Enchi Fumiko's 'Kami' ('Hair', 1957) operates a hairdressing business that is viable only with her mother's unpaid labour. The narratives are read through a matrix of post-structuralist theories of embodiment, drawing on the work of writers such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Elizabeth Grosz.

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