The Alien WithinRepresentations of the Exotic in Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature

The Alien WithinRepresentations of the Exotic in Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature

Leith Morton

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824832926

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

Readers worldwide have long been drawn to the foreign, the exotic, and the alien, even before Freud's famous essay on the uncanny in 1919. Given Japan's many years of relative isolation, followed by its multicultural empire, these themes seem ripe for exploration and exploitation by Japanese writers. Their literary adventures have taken them inside Japan as well as outside, and how they internalized the exotic through the adoption of modernist techniques and subject matter forms the primary subject of this book. This is the first book-length thematic study in English of the alien in modern Japanese literature and helps shed new light on a number of important authors. It examines the Gothic, a form of writing with strong affinities to European Gothic and a motif in the fiction of several key modern Japanese writers, such as Arishima Takeo. It also discusses the translations of Tsubouchi Shöyö, Japan's most famous early translator of Shakespeare, and how this author was absorbed into the Japanese literary and theatrical tradition. The new field of translation theory and how it relates to translating Shakespeare are also discussed. The book devotes two chapters to the celebrated female poet Yosano Akiko, whose verse on childbirth and her unborn children broke taboos relating to the expression of the female body and sensibility. It also highlights the writing of contemporary Okinawan novelist Öshiro Tatsuhiro, whose work springs from what is for Japanese an exotic subtropical landscape and makes symbolic reference to the otherness at the heart of Japanese religiosity. The final chapter analyzes the travel writing of Murakami Haruki.