THE FAMILIARITY OF STRANGE PLACES
The comparison can be misleading, but it is a useful one to make for those who are unfamiliar with the general contours of Japanese literature : in the way that American scholars have had to ponder the stature of Edgar Allan Poe, readers of Japanese literature have had to wonder about how best to understand the accomplishments of Izumi Kyōka (1873-1939), another writer whose influence seems out of proportion with the category he has been customarily allotted by literary history. Kyōka's writing flows from assumptions very different from those that provide the bedrock for Poe's dank and desolate creations, but to the extent that the term gothic can hold meaning in a cross‐ cultural dimension, it is worth applying to both writers, if only to bring attention to the dissonance the category creates. If anything, Kyōka's writing is a frontal attack on the barbarous and uncouth values to which European gothic supposedly owes its genealogy. Yet Kyōka does share with Poe a decadent romanticism, and this point of sameness leads us to consider how it is possible that writers of the uncanny and the macabre can be highly regarded at all.
The dissonance created by the possibility of "great gothic writers" can be understood on a number of levels. On the plane of literary history, major achievements within minor categories implicate the valid