Daughters of the Moon: Wish, Will, and Social Constraint in Fiction by Modern Japanese Women

By Victoria V. Vernon | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOUR
Soundings in Time: From Sata Ineko's "Kyarameru kōjō kara" to "Yuki no mau yado"

MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS after the death of Higuchi Ichiyō, Sata Ineko published her first short story, Kyarameru kōjō kara" ("From the Caramel Factory) ( 1929).1 In spite of some superficial resemblances in their early experiences, the literary careers of the women are in sharp contrast. The brevity of Ichiyō's life colors the view of many of her critics and interpreters with an aura of poignant romanticism not unlike that which tends to surround the poetry of Keats in the English tradition. Conversely, the extreme length of Sata's career as a writer (lasting more than fifty years into the present) is a crucially important factor in the evaluation of her overall contribution to Japanese letters. The eighteen volumes of her collected works 2 force the critic in their reading, as they undoubtedly forced the writer in their original production, to undertake a continual reevaluation of the nature of human consciousness as it accrues in time and of the social forces that act upon the evolution of the individual in the various circumstances and stages of life.

Time can be metaphorically seen as an instant in Ichiyō's work -- the moment between childhood and adulthood in "Takekurabe" -- or her work may be seen as the product of a

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1
First published in Puroretaria geijutsu [Proletarian Art]. At the time of its publication, Sata was married to Kubokawa Tsurujirō, a leading Marxist, and her early fiction is published under her married name. Following their divorce in 1945, however, she resumed use of her maiden name.
2
Sata Ineko, Sata Ineko zenshū [Complete Works of Sata Ineko], ( Tokyo: Kōdansha, January 1978-June 1980), "Kyarameru kōjō kara" appears in vol. 1, pp. 21-31 "Yuki no mau yado" in vol. 14, pp. 314-325. My translation of "Yuki no mau yado" as "The Inn of the Dancing Snow," which is appended, appeared in Occident ( Berkeley) ( Winter 1981), pp. 4-8.

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