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Gender and Virtue in Nansō Satomi hakkenden


Good and evil, Gynne Walley argues, are the one constant dialectic in Kyokutei Bakin’s early nineteenth-century popular novel Nansō Satomi hakkenden, but they are not the only binary the author constructs. Hakkenden’s world, like its author’s own, is one that proposes a number of dichotomies with moral dimensions. Prominent among these is the gender distinction: male and female are presumed to be opposite and mutually exclusive categories existing in a morally determined hierarchy. Women are defined as being, by their very natures, less capable of moral rectitude than men. By exploring how Bakin treats the topic of gender in this landmark work of Tokugawa fiction, Walley shows how Hakkenden sets the moral dialectic against the gender binary, ultimately destabilizing the categories of male and female in order to strengthen those of good and evil.

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