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

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

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

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

Excerpt

A LTHOUGH LITERATURE BY WOMEN in the past century, when looked at in its manifestation in specific works, shows, as we have seen, a wide range of linguistic modes and of attitudes toward the social and literary contexts from which it arises, some Japanese critics are influenced by the standards of the past as they attempt to characterize feminine writing (joryū bungaku). Thus, emotional sensitivity, delicacy of language, and a subjective point of view are still held to be particularly "feminine" qualities in a writer. This despite the fact that until the modernist movement such qualities might be termed characteristic of almost all twentieth-century writers in Japan, male or female. Characterizations of "feminine style" in this vein tend to ignore the operation of the specific social context in favor of an unchanging standard based simply upon what is seen as a biological/psychological constant. Such a basis of classification in fact works to reinforce the very social constraints that the literature was created to question and resist.

The whole area of feminine stylistics is, moreover, peculiarly loaded with culture-based stereotyping both in Japan and the West, but because of the influence of Heian women writers upon all of their successors, it may be a less viable concept in the Japanese context. Even in the West, however, as Rosalind Miles has amply illustrated in The Fiction of Sex: Themes and Functions of Sex Difference in the Modern Novel , it is risky to attempt to differentiate maculine and feminine writing on the basis of the language of specific texts. "Do men and women write differently from one another? Of course they do; but from one another as individuals rather than as sexes. All . . .

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