Dangerous Women, Deadly Words: Phallic Fantasy and Modernity in Three Japanese Writers

By Nina Cornyetz | Go to book overview

ONE
Speculum

[ Izumi Kyōka's] world is, simply, Japanese. . . . His work is a pure Japanese product. --TANIZAKI JUN'ICHIRŌ " Junsui ni ' Nihonteki' na Kyōka sekai"

Even when [ Kyōka is] depicting a single woman, she is all women. This generic woman is nothing more than a vessel encompassing archetypes (like vessels into which water is poured!). Therefore they do not possess faces with raw contours as individuals. Women are, first and foremost, an odor that envelopes him, a sentiment, a fleeting tactility, a "white face." -- TANEMURA SUEHIRO "Suichūka hengen"

Izumi Kyōka's prolific writing career began in Meiji, continued through Taisho, and ended with his death in Showa, culminating in more than three hundred narratives. Known for his opaque prose (literary critic Ikuta Chōkō called him Japan's "supreme impressionist")1 and for his ghost tales, he was also celebrated for how he "wrote women." And Kyōka indeed wrote women. Literary historian Nakamura Mitsuo described Kyōka as an author of "sweet romance novels . . . [which display] a sort of feminism."2Kyōka scholar Muramatsu Sadataka likewise used the word feminism when discussing Kyōka's portrayals of women: "Even in the case of the sorceress in Kōya hijiri, Kyōka's feminism is revealed as embodying the ideal of a super being transcendental of the real -- whether through a

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