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The Father-Daughter Plot

The Father-Daughter Plot: Japanese Literary Women and the Law of the Father

Rebecca L. Copeland
Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen
Copyright Date: 2001
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  • Book Info
    The Father-Daughter Plot
    Book Description:

    This provocative collection of essays is a comprehensive study of the "father-daughter dynamic" in Japanese female literary experience. Its contributors examine the ways in which women have been placed politically, ideologically, and symbolically as "daughters" in a culture that venerates "the father." They weigh the impact that this daughterly position has had on both the performance and production of women's writing from the classical period to the present. Conjoining the classical and the modern with a unified theme reveals an important continuum in female authorship-a historical approach often ignored by scholars. The essays devoted to the literature of the classical period discuss canonical texts in a new light, offering important feminist readings that challenge existing scholarship, while those dedicated to modern writers introduce readers to little-known texts with translations and readings that are engaging and original.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6471-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Rebecca L. Copeland
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

    We have gathered together the essays in this book as an exploration of writing by women and its discursive relationship to the patriarchy, an order whose continued reproduction in the family is no longer certain. The materials for the investigation are inevitably limited by the authors’ literary and geographical focus on Japan and, within it, on specific works or writers, so that we cannot claim a representative coverage of the literature. Nevertheless, we offer these essays as a contribution to the study of women’s writing in the West, as it opens up to the experience of women in other parts...

  6. Chapter 1 Of Love and Bondage in the Kagerō Diary: Michitsuna’s Mother and Her Father
    (pp. 25-48)
    Sonja Arntzen

    TheKagerō Diary (Kagerō nikki)commands our attention as chronologically the first text in the rich and distinguished tradition of Heian women’s literature.¹ This autobiographical text covers twenty years (954–974), focusing on the author’s marriage with Fujiwara Kaneie, a scion of the most powerful branch of the Fujiwara family. The author is known to posterity as Michitsuna’s Mother, a name derived from her position as mother of an only son, but in this essay I will reconstruct her as daughter.

    TheKagerō Diaryis generally famous as a record of female jealousy, largely because of its early, striking passages...

  7. Chapter 2 Self-Representation and the Patriarchy in the Heian Female Memoirs
    (pp. 49-88)
    Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

    It is by now axiomatic to assume, when reading the genre known as Heian women’s diary literature(Heian joryū nikki bungaku),that we are dealing with artistic narratives of female self-representation rather than the unstructured series of disparate entries commonly understood by the term “diary.” These “diaries” are the creative products of a highly selective process of sifting through the memory, aided by notebooks of poems sent and received, with brief indications of their occasion and circumstance, and other sketches of events and personal encounters recorded close to the time of their occurrence. There is reason therefore to approve the...

  8. Chapter 3 Towazugatari: Unruly Tales from a Dutiful Daughter
    (pp. 89-114)
    Edith Sarra

    The memoirTowazugatariof the late Kamakura period (after 1306) is best known to readers of English through Karen Brazell’s translation,The Confessions of Lady Nijō.¹ A more literal, if less elegant, rendering of the title isA Tale No One Asked For. For reasons that will become clear later in this essay, I prefer the more literal translation, though I believe both titles have their own merits as evocative commentaries on the kinds of interpretation this text invites. I will return to this matter below.

    The memoir was written by an aristocratic woman who served as a high-ranking concubine...

  9. Chapter 4 Mother Tongue and Father Script: The Relationship of Sei Shōnagon and Murasaki Shikibu to Their Fathers and Chinese Letters
    (pp. 115-142)
    Joshua S. Mostow

    The term “literary paternity” was coined by Sandra M. Gilbert in 1979 in reference to nineteenth-century English female writers. Tracing her argument as far back as the mimetic theory of Plato and the story of creation inGenesis,she declared: “In patriarchal Western culture, . . . the text’s author is a father, a progenitor, a procreator, an aesthetic patriarch whose pen is an instrument of generative power like his penis.”¹ Writing is seen as an exclusively male prerogative, which has “caused enormous anxiety in generations of women who were ‘presumptuous’ enough to dare”² to pick up the pen to...

  10. Chapter 5 De-siring the Center: Hayashi Fumiko’s Hungry Heroines and the Male Literary Canon
    (pp. 143-166)
    Janice Brown

    For a writer who openly denied the traditional teacher-disciple relationship and relied almost completely upon her own experiences as well as those of other lower working-class women to provide the themes and subject matter of her writings, it comes as somewhat of a surprise to find throughout the texts of Hayashi Fumiko (1903–1951) a steady stream of references to and critiques of male writers. In fact, Fumiko’s sensitivity to male writers and male texts far outweighs any corresponding regard for female writers and texts. Certainly such bias is observable in the careers of many literary women writing within hegemonic...

  11. Chapter 6 A Room Sweet as Honey: Father-Daughter Love in Mori Mari
    (pp. 167-193)
    Tomoko Aoyama

    Mori Mari (1903–1987) is a contemporary of Uno Chiyo, Enchi Fumiko, and Kōda Aya, each of whom is discussed in this volume. Like Enchi and Kōda, she had a famous father, Mori Ōgai, widely regarded as one of the founding “fathers” of the modernization of Japan, a “fighting patriarch”¹ who made numerous important contributions not only in literature but also in medicine, philosophy, aesthetics, military studies, and many other fields. Mari was the eldest daughter of Ōgai and his second wife, Shige.² Like Kōda Aya, Hagiwara Yòko (b. 1920, daughter of Hagiwara Sakutarō), and many other “literary daughters” (i.e.,...

  12. Chapter 7 Enchi Fumiko: Female Sexuality and the Absent Father
    (pp. 194-214)
    Eileen B. Mikals-Adachi

    Hidden in the depths of Tokyo’s Yanaka Cemetery is one literary daughter who, while enjoying an impressive reputation in her own right, was eternally haunted by her father’s image. Enchi Fumiko (1905–1986), one of postwar Japan’s most acclaimed women writers in life, is positioned in death alongside her father, Ueda Kazutoshi (1867–1937)¹—and significantly so. The cemetery’s “Directory of Celebrities” lists this 1985 recipient of Japan’s highest of honors, the Imperial Cultural Medal(Bunka kunshō),as simply “novelist; oldest daughter of Kazutoshi.”² Indeed, Enchi is better known to many Japanese as the daughter of this renowned philologist and...

  13. Chapter 8 Needles, Knives, and Pens: Uno Chiyo and the Remembered Father
    (pp. 215-237)
    Rebecca L. Copeland

    Some women may become mothers, wives, sisters, or aunts. But all women—from birth to death—are daughters. They are daughters biologically to parents who may or may not figure in their lives, and if they live in patriarchal societies, they are daughters politically, ideologically, and symbolically to a culture that venerates phallic law. How women respond to and experience “daughterhood” differs across cultures, across generations, and across the span of individual lives. In her narratives, the writer Uno Chiyo (1897–1996) reveals a woman whose struggle with her “daughterhood” began as an act of defiance, a refusal of the...

  14. Chapter 9 A Confucian Utopia: Kōda Aya and Kōda Rohan
    (pp. 238-264)
    Ann Sherif

    The Father is all too often villainized as oppressive originator of the Law, as capitalist, and as dictator; he is rapist, molester, pervert, and abuser, and readers tend to collapse all these different manifestations into a single figure. That is, we often conflate the individual father, the socioeconomic and political systems of patriarchy, the phallus, the Law in the symbolic order, men! Clearly, such oversimplification cannot lead to a sophisticated theory of gender and gender relations nor enhance feminism. I believe one of our tasks in this volume is to distinguish among the several aspects of the figure we call...

  15. Chapter 10 Ōba Minako and the Paternity of Maternalism
    (pp. 265-291)
    Sharalyn Orbaugh

    The idea of the family romance—that is, “the story we tell ourselves about the social and psychological reality of the family in which we find ourselves and about the patterns of desire that motivate the interaction among its members”¹—has been related frequently in recent years to the study of narrative fiction. Ever since Harold Bloom’sAnxiety of Influence(1973) appeared, the filial nature of the relationship between a male writer and his male predecessors has been explored. More recently, feminist literary scholars have inflected the question of filiality to investigate the different relationship that a literary daughter may...

  16. Chapter 11 Kurahashi Yumiko’s Negotiations with the Fathers
    (pp. 292-326)
    Atsuko Sakaki

    “I experienced the same sensation with this work that I felt when I read Mr. Ōe Kenzaburō’s first work,” Hirano Ken wrote in hisMainichi shinbunreview of Kurahashi Yumiko’s debut piece, “Parutai” (Partei, 1960).¹ Having favorably reviewed the works on women and politics by the two established women writers of the time—Sata Ineko (1904–1998) and Ōhara Tomie (b. 1912) earlier that year (1960), Hirano (1907–1978) here takes up “Partei,” which deals with a female university student’s disillusionment with a Stalinist-styled “party,” as “another work on politics and sexuality”² and praises the talent of Kurahashi (b. 1935)...

  17. Chapter 12 Ogino Anna’s Gargantuan Play in Tales of Peaches
    (pp. 327-368)
    Midori McKeon

    A very smart-looking professor in a well-tailored business suit smiles radiantly at the camera. In her arms, a live pig. This portrait of Ogino Anna (b. 1956) and the pig she named Oginome Tonko is printed on the penultimate page of her ambitious work of fictionMomo monogatari(Tales of peaches, 1994). The photograph was taken on the occasion of a visit to a pig farm in Mie Prefecture in 1993, during one of the twelve factory tours Kyōdō Tsūshinsha (Kyodo News) arranged for Ogino’s reportage series entitledAnna no kūjō kankō(Anna’s factory tours).¹ Ogino, a self-confessed pig lover...

    (pp. 369-372)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 373-384)