Critical Study of the Novels of Natsume S?seki (1867-1916)

Author: Ridgeway, William
Year:2004
Pages:268
ISBN:0-7734-6230-9
978-0-7734-6230-4
Price:199.95
This study is a comparative analysis of the major works of Natsume S?seki, which compares Japan's greatest novelist with his contemporaries, his works with influential English novels, his social milieu and literary concerns with Victorians and writers of his day. There being no golden key to unlock the mysteries of S?seki's novels, this critical inquiry uses unexplored categories of analysis- gender, sexuality, the body, and desire-to fathom the depth and breadth of S?seki's fictional world: interpersonal relations, gender roles, gender conflict, the battle of the sexes, love and disease, erotic triangles, love betrayed. Included is an Annotated Bibliography of S?seki scholarship and also a publishing history of the author's works translated into foreign languages.

Reviews

“Dr. William Ridgeway has given us a sparkling and trailblazing study of the work of Japan's preeminent modem novelist Natsume S?seki (1867-1916), which represents a quantum leap in Western scholarship on this figure's contribution to Japanese-and indeed world-literature. And yet, as he himself freely admits, he has by no means thereby exhausted the interpretative possibilities of this protean author's work. On the contrary, he has challenged the readers of S?seki-preferably of course in the original Japanese but even in the ever- widening circle of translation, obviously of greatly varying quality-to ponder further the many important questions S?seki has posed, questions with which Ridgeway has here wrestled so admirably. Ridgeway has wisely delimited his study to S?seki' s fiction, skillfully skirting myriad biographical problems as well as the many autobiographical elements in the works, an area that Japanese scholars especially have been continually mining for almost a century. He further narrows his study by focusing on three major theoretical concepts which he forthrightly states as "gender, the body, and desire," thereby placing himself squarely in the midst of late-twentieth- and early-twenty- first-century literary criticism. Nevertheless, he does not wholly neglect the more traditional-albeit now somewhat undervalued-areas of literary criticism, principally the historical context of the novels, the late Meiji (1868-1912) and early Taisho (1912-1926) periods, by providing penetrating commentary on the pertaining social, economic, and, more broadly, cultural factors … I must applaud his study for its extraordinary depth and breadth. Indeed, I cannot but think that S?seki, if he were alive today and could read it, would applaud it too.” – (from the Foreword) Dr. V.H. Viglielmo, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Note on the Texts with Synopses
Foreword by V. H. Viglielmo
Preface
Introduction
1. Theorizing Gender, the Body and Desire
2. Reading the Diseased Body: Fissure, Blindness, and The Gaze in Meian
3. Women on Top: Epiphanies in Botchan, Kusamakura, Sanshiro, Sorekara, Meian
4. Erotic Triangles and Homosocial Desire in Gubijinso, Nowaki, Sorekara, Mon, Kojin, Kokoro, Meian 5. The New Woman, The Femme Fatale, Osan/Koharu, Madonna/Whore
6. Modern Love in Meredith and Soseki: The Dissolution of a Marriage
7. Success, Flanerie, and Tairiku ronin (Continental Wanderers)
8. In Conclusion: Matome / Recapitulation
Notes
Works Cited
Annotated Bibliography
Index