7 Nagai Kafū’s feminist perspective
DOI link for 7 Nagai Kafū’s feminist perspective
7 Nagai Kafū’s feminist perspective book
Modern Japanese literature is usually seen as beginning in the Meiji period (1868-1912), that great crucible in which new political ideas and literary methods built on the artistic creativity of the Edo period to give a new voice to Japanese writers. Many male writers of the Meiji period occupied a privileged position of power according to their class or education that allowed them entry into publishing circles. Female writers were hampered by an ingrained system of male dominance, and although the Meiji and Taishō periods produced many excellent writers both male and female, it tended to be the male writers who were published more widely and later canonized by (mostly male) literary critics. The representation of women in modern Japanese literature is therefore skewed, created more often than not through the vision of male eyes, embodying qualities to satisfy male desires. The feminist poet Kōra Rumiko (b. 1932) once lamented that ‘The woman that is created in the texts of Japan’s male writers is a stranger to me. These novels make me angry’ (Buckley 1997: 105). Expressing similar dissatisfaction, three female Japanese critics, Ueno Chizuko, Tomioka Taeko and Ogura Chikako, published a blistering critique against writers such as Kawabata Yasunari (18991972), Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (1886-1965), Mishima Yukio (1925-1970) and Murakami Haruki (b. 1949), whose female characters are sacrificed, objectified and abjected before the needs of the male narrator.1 Certainly, very few women in Japanese novels of the twentieth century could be described as occupying the subject position in the work, as opposed to that of observed object.