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The Father-Daughter Plot

Rebecca L. Copeland (ed.)

Publication Year: 2001

This provocative collection of essays is a comprehensive study of the "father-daughter dynamic" in Japanese female literary experience. Its contributors examine the ways in which women have been placed politically, ideologically, and symbolically as "daughters" in a culture that venerates "the father." They weigh the impact that this daughterly position has had on both the performance and production of women's writing from the classical period to the present. Conjoining the classical and the modern with a unified theme reveals an important continuum in female authorship-a historical approach often ignored by scholars. The essays devoted to the literature of the classical period discuss canonical texts in a new light, offering important feminist readings that challenge existing scholarship, while those dedicated to modern writers introduce readers to little-known texts with translations and readings that are engaging and original.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

This volume of essays on the “daughterly” experience of Japanese women writers has been a long time in the making and has been derived from a variety of sources. The first spark of inspiration for the project was lit at the Third Annual Meeting of the Midwest Association of Japanese Literary Studies, held at Purdue University in Indiana...


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pp. xi

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pp. 1-24

We have gathered together the essays in this book as an exploration of writing by women and its discursive relationship to the patriarchy, an order whose continued reproduction in the family is no longer certain. The materials for the investigation are inevitably limited by the authors’ literary and geographical focus on Japan and, within it,...

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Chapter 1 Of Love and Bondage in the Kagerō Diary: Michitsuna’s Mother and Her Father

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pp. 25-48

The Kagerò Diary (Kagerò nikki) commands our attention as chronologically the first text in the rich and distinguished tradition of Heianwomen’s literature.1 This autobiographical text covers twenty years (954–974), focusing on the author’s marriage with Fujiwara Kaneie, a scion of the most powerful branch of the Fujiwara family. The author...

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Chapter 2 Self-Representation and the Patriarchy in the Heian Female Memoirs

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pp. 49-88

It is by now axiomatic to assume, when reading the genre known as Heian women’s diary literature (Heian joryû nikki bungaku), that we are dealing with artistic narratives of female self-representation rather than the unstructured series of disparate entries commonly understood by the term “diary.” These “diaries” are the creative products of...

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Chapter 3 Towazugatari Unruly Tales from a Dutiful Daughter

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pp. 89-114

The memoir Towazugatari of the late Kamakura period (after 1306) is best known to readers of English through Karen Brazell’s translation,The Confessions of Lady Nijò.1 A more literal, if less elegant, rendering of the title is A Tale No One Asked For. For reasons that will become clear later in this essay, I prefer the more literal translation, though I...

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Chapter 4 Mother Tongue and Father Script: The Relationship of Sei Shōnagon and Murasaki Shikibu to Their Fathers and Chinese Letters

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pp. 115-142

The term “literary paternity” was coined by Sandra M. Gilbert in 1979 in reference to nineteenth-century English female writers. Tracing her argument as far back as the mimetic theory of Plato and the story of creation in Genesis, she declared: “In patriarchal Western culture, . . .the text’s author is a father, a progenitor, a procreator, an aesthetic...

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Chapter 5 De-siring the Center Hayashi Fumiko’s Hungry Heroines and the Male Literary Canon

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pp. 143-166

For a writer who openly denied the traditional teacher-disciple relationship and relied almost completely upon her own experiences as well as those of other lower working-class women to provide the themes and subject matter of her writings, it comes as somewhat of a surprise to find throughout the texts of Hayashi Fumiko (1903–1951) a steady...

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Chapter 6 A Room Sweet as Honey: Father-Daughter Love in Mori Mari

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pp. 167-193

Mori Mari (1903–1987) is a contemporary of Uno Chiyo, Enchi Fumiko, and Kòda Aya, each of whom is discussed in this volume. Like Enchi and Kòda, she had a famous father, Mori Ògai, widely regarded as one of the founding “fathers” of the modernization of Japan, a “fighting patriarch”1 who made numerous important contributions not only in literature but also in medicine, philosophy, aesthetics, military...

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Chapter 7 Enchi Fumiko: Female Sexuality and the Absent Father

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pp. 194-214

Hidden in the depths of Tokyo’s Yanaka Cemetery is one literary daughter who, while enjoying an impressive reputation in her own right, was eternally haunted by her father’s image. Enchi Fumiko (1905–1986), one of postwar Japan’s most acclaimed women writers in life, is positioned in death alongside her father, Ueda Kazutoshi...

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Chapter 8 Needles, Knives, and Pens: Uno Chiyo and the Remembered Father

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pp. 215-237

Some women may become mothers, wives, sisters, or aunts. But all women—from birth to death—are daughters. They are daughters biologically to parents who may or may not figure in their lives, and if they live in patriarchal societies, they are daughters politically, ideologically, and symbolically to a culture that venerates phallic law. How...

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Chapter 9 A Confucian Utopia: Kōda Aya and Kōda Rohan

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pp. 238-264

The Father is all too often villainized as oppressive originator of the Law, as capitalist, and as dictator; he is rapist, molester, pervert, and abuser, and readers tend to collapse all these different manifestations into a single figure. That is, we often conflate the individual father, the socioeconomic and political systems of patriarchy, the phallus, the Law...

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Chapter 10 Ōba Minako and the Paternity of Maternalism

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pp. 265-291

The idea of the family romance—that is, “the story we tell ourselves about the social and psychological reality of the family in which we find ourselves and about the patterns of desire that motivate the interaction among its members”1—has been related frequently in recent years to the study of narrative fiction. Ever since Harold Bloom’s...

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Chapter 11 Kurahashi Yumiko’s Negotiations with the Fathers

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pp. 292-326

...Having favorably reviewed the works on women and politics by the two established women writers of the time—Sata Ineko (1904– 1998) and Òhara Tomie (b. 1912) earlier that year (1960), Hirano (1907–1978) here takes up “Partei,” which deals with a female university student’s disillusionment with a Stalinist-styled “party,” as “another work on politics and sexuality”2 and praises the talent...

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Chapter 12 Ogino Anna’s Gargantuan Play in Tales of Peaches

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pp. 327-368

A very smart-looking professor in a well-tailored business suit smiles radiantly at the camera. In her arms, a live pig. This portrait of Ogino Anna (b. 1956) and the pig she named Oginome Tonko is printed on the penultimate page of her ambitious work of fiction Momo monogatari (Tales of peaches, 1994). The photograph was taken on the occasion of a visit to a pig farm in Mie Prefecture in 1993, during one of...


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pp. 369-372


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pp. 373-384

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864712
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824821722

Publication Year: 2001