Fictions of Desire

Fictions of Desire: Narrative Forms in the Novels of Nagai Kafu

STEPHEN SNYDER
Copyright Date: 2000
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wr544
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Fictions of Desire
    Book Description:

    Stephen Snyder examines Kafu's fiction in terms of narrative strategy, placing him squarely within some of the most important currents of literary modernism--at the nexus of Naturalism and the largely antithetical development of the modernist reflexive novel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6251-0
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-7)

    Nagai Kafū was aflâneur,that urban “prowler” immortalized by the “first modernist,” Baudelaire, inLe Spleen de Paris.¹ Kafū’s fiction, diaries, criticism, and occasional pieces document his perambulations in the modern(izing) metropolis that Tokyo had become by the beginning of the twentieth century, as he turns the “mobilized gaze of theflâneur” on the spectacle of contemporary life.² Over the course of his career, Kafū’s view of that life shifted from approbation to censure, but his commitment to the act of chronicling the cityscape remained a constant through nearly six decades of literary production. Kafū is, however, more than...

  5. CHAPTER 1 ŌGAI, KAFŪ, AND THE LIMITS OF FICTION
    (pp. 8-33)

    J.Thomas Rimer’s analysis of the nature of the friendship between Nagai Kafū and Mori Ōgai identifies the themes that recur in any account of this relationship, indeed in any attempt to explain why there should have been a friendship at all between these two men of so genuinely different character, and, more surprisingly perhaps, why Kafū should have chosen Ōgai among all the figures in Japanese letters as “surrogate father.”¹ The two themes seen to link Kafū and Ōgai, mentioned in most discussions of the friendship, are an attraction to and an understanding of Western culture, particularly literature; and a...

  6. CHAPTER 2 MAUPASSANT AND AMERIKA MONOGATARI
    (pp. 34-53)

    Though Kafū was of the opinion that his career as a writer began the moment he presented himself on the doorstep of the Ken’yūsha writer Hirotsu Ryūrō (1861–1929), Nakamura Mitsuo takes a more conservative view, labeling as “practice pieces”(shūsaku)all the works from Kafū’s early period, including the Ryūrō-influencedShin Umegoyomi(The New Plum Calendar, 1901), the “Zolaesque” novelsYashin(Ambition, 1902),Jigoku no hana(The Flowers of Hell, 1902), and even the superiorYume no onna(Woman of the Dream, 1903).¹ In Nakamura’s reading,Amerika monogatari(1908) is the first work in which Kafū finds a mature,...

  7. CHAPTER 3 UDEKURABE: THE DEMIMONDE EAST AND WEST
    (pp. 54-91)

    The moment, in the spring of 1916, when Kafū retired from his position as instructor at Keiō Gijuku (later Keiō University) and as editor ofMita bungakuis significant not only in the sense that it signaled what Edward Seidensticker calls Kafū’s “withdrawal” from the literary clique, orbundan(or the start of what Isoda Kōichi characterizes as Kafū’s life of “radical individualism”), but also because it directly preceded the publication of the two important and, by Kafū’s standards, substantial novels Seidensticker labels “stragglers.”¹ The two areUdekurabe(Geisha in Rivalry, 1917) andOkamezasa(Dwarf Bamboo,1918), and their publication...

  8. CHAPTER 4 FRUSTRATED FORM: NARRATIVE SUBVERSION IN OKAMEZASA
    (pp. 92-114)

    The circumstances surrounding the publication ofOkamezasa,like that ofUdekurabe,were less than simple. The journal in which the latter part of the novel was being serialized,Kagetsu(which Kafū himself edited in cooperation with and as a favor to one of his closest friends, Inoue Aa), ceased publication in December of 1918. The first nine chapters of the book had appeared in the New Year’s edition ofChūō kōron,followed by chapters 10 through 14 inKagetsu. When the latter folded, Kafū, in poor health, appears to have abandoned the project until 1920, when, still in his sickbed,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 BOKUTŌ KIDAN: A “STRANGE TALE” AND THE SELF-CONSCIOUS MODERN
    (pp. 115-154)

    In the case of certain novelists, James Joyce or Shiga Naoya, for example, there is little difficulty in identifying the work that stands out as the masterpiece of a career. It is, simply, a work that dominates in scope, notoriety, and importance. WhileFinnegan’s Wakemay fascinate Joyce scholars,Ulyssesremains Joyce’s seminal, central work, the one that generated shock waves in the fictional topography that have not yet subsided. Likewise, Shiga is one of the most talented crafters of short stories in twentieth-century Japanese fiction, butAn’ya kōro(A Dark Night’s Passing, 1937) is his definitive narrative statement, his...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 155-180)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 181-188)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 189-196)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)