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Title: Narrating modern Japan in the writings of Lafcadio Hearn, Pierre Loti, Ōgai Mori and Sōseki Natsume
Author: Fukuzawa, Naomi Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 5707
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This comparatist analysis of Japanese, French and English travel writings representative of the exchange process between Europe and Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912) after the forced opening through the Perry ships in 1858 critically examines the constitution of a national narrative in the fin de siècle. Following the purely aesthetic fine arts-Japonism, subsequent to the World Exhibitions in London in 1862 and Paris in 1867 (Yumiko Iida), this discussion considers the semi-autobiographical uncanny literary works of Pierre Loti, Lafcadio Hearn, Ōgai Mori, and Sōseki Natsume to depict the intercultural formation of Modern Japan's transnational imaginary with a constructivist approach to modern national identities (Joep Leerssen, Benedict Anderson). Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical concept of the 'uncanny' ('Das Unheimliche', 1919) was adapted for fantastic or exotic literature (Tzvetan Todorov, Homi Bhabha, M. D. Foster), so that these supernatural semi-autobiographical writings will be approached with different traditions of autobiographical or I-novels and the recent comparatist transnational world literature-perspective on the travel of genres (David Damrosch, Pascale Casanova). The very first Japanist novel, Pierre Loti's Madame Chrysanthème (1887), tells the story of his marriage to a commercial Japanese bride, the marriage lasting just as long as his brief journey to Japan. The novel portrays the destabilisation of the Western gaze in the 'Far East' (an apprehension of the 'crisis of the novel'; Hélène de Burgh). Seen from the framework of 'eclectic hybridity', this happened in the aftermath of inner-European post-Napoleonic rivalries, when Japan replaced France as first model of modernity with Germany, as a response to the Prussian victory in 1871. This thesis juxtaposes Madame Chrysanthème with Irish-Greek born writer Lafcadio Hearn's modernist essayistic novels like Kokoro (1896), as well as the anglophone Japanese ghost story collection Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1904). Hearn's (whose pen name and naturalised Japanese name was Koizumi Yakumo) supernatural stories are based on both oral and written collections of old Japanese folktales, and their conjugal creation from his wife Setsu Koizumi's so-far neglected translation, retelling and even theatrical performance of these tales represent another form of subversion of modern hermeneutical authorship (Barthes, Foucault). His unique anglophone intervention into Japan's folklore around 1900, posthumously retranslated into Japanese, was historically compared to the Brothers Grimm's Märchen in German Romantic nationalism or Hans Christian Andersen's invention of Danish fairy tales in early to mid-nineteenth century, even similar to the classic French Orientalism of Antoine Galland's Thousand and One Nuits from the seventeenth century (Jack Zipes, Marina Warner). Hearn's biographically rooted exoticism of 'Hoichi the Earless' or 'The Snow-Woman' links ancient or medieval tales with the Victorian and Irish Gothic or with British Hellenism, to form literary discourses of intercultural hybrid Shinto Buddhist restoration and ancestor worship (Sukehiro Hirakawa). This 'auto-exotic' (a term fully developed in the thesis) emergence of modern Japanese literature in Meiji is traced in Ōgai's acquisition of the modernist genre of the novella in his semi-autobiographical 'The Dancing Girl'/'Maihime' (1890) (Yoda Tomiko, D. Washburn a.o.) about the mid-Meiji Japanese adoption of Germany's 'late' (Ben Hutchinson) modernisation, and, Sōseki's Anglo-Japanese novella 'The Tower of London'/'Rondon-tō' (1904) about historical ghosts re-enactment (Susan J. Napier). The thesis compares these to Ōgai's semi-autobiographical novel Vita Sexualis [Uita sekusuarisu] (1909), written in the tradition of the Bildungsoman, which portrays the hybridised legacy of Edo Japan's sexual culture regarding prostitution, homoeroticism, and marital customs, as well as to Sōseki Natsume's epistolary novel Kokoro (1914) on the moral struggle around love, friendship and suicide in Meiji Japan (Stephen Dodd, Vincent Keith). The central concept of 'eclectic hybridity' follows Rumi Sakamoto's exegesis of Yukichi Fukuzawa and is based on Bhabha's non-biological notion of hybridity for modern Japan as an Eurasian 'in-between' (Hutchinson/Williams), close to Yōichi Komori ambivalent idea of a 'self-colonisation', developed for Sōseki Natsume's literature as national allegory of Japan's rise from an almost colonised Asian nation to the Westernised imperialist nation of its own. Modern Japan's standing even as another 'third space' examines the relativisation of Edward Said's Orientalism or Gayatri Spivak's subalterity by under the egis of exoticism by Jennifer Yee, Japanologist use of the 'contact zone' (Mary Louise Pratt) by Karen Thornber, or Sowon S. Park's East Asian 'adaptive comparative'. In Michel Foucault's theoretical traditions of epistemes for modernity as well as constructivist approach to modern national identities, the development of literary Japanism is analysed within 'planetary' world-literary translation processes (Wai Chee Dimock, Franco Moretti, Emily Apter) and a genre-historical focus on the novel(la), the ghost story or fairy tale (N. Paige, F. Mussgnug).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available