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The “Devil” in the Heart: Enchi Fumiko’s Onnamen and the Uncanny

From: The Journal of Japanese Studies
Volume 40, Number 1, Winter 2014
pp. 29-55 | 10.1353/jjs.2014.0003



Enchi Fumiko’s novel Onnamen (Female masks, 1958) has been the subject of various interpretations by Western scholars writing in English for nearly three decades. This article offers a different perspective on the novel by reading it in the light of Sigmund Freud’s essay “Das Unheimlich” (The uncanny, 1919). I argue that previous critics have not paid sufficient attention to the central male character, Ibuki Tsuneo, and his role in mediating our understanding of the central female character, Toganō Mieko, and that Mieko herself is a modern shamaness only in the sense that she is possessed by her own obsessions.

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