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The Demon within

The Demon within

Yosano Akiko and Motherhood

(p.73) Chapter 3 The Demon within
The Alien Within
Leith Morton
University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter studies the poetry and prose Akiko wrote about childbirth. This was an equally revolutionary theme in its day since childbirth was a taboo topic in literature, the prejudice against birth being closely related to the systematic oppression of women practiced by the Japanese state. Akiko's writing not only struck a blow for the contemporary movement for women's emancipation, but also helped to redefine female subjectivity for women themselves. The symbol of the new conception of womanhood that she created in her work was motherhood: the literal incorporation of the alien into the maternal body. The chapter then reflects on the importance of Yosano Akiko as an author who became the most widely read woman writer of twentieth-century Japan, but whose historic significance is still barely understood in the West.

Keywords:   Yosano Akiko, childbirth, motherhood, Japanese women, womanhood, maternal body, twentieth-century Japan

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