Telling Lives: Women's Self-Writing in Modern Japan
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328pp. June 2004
Telling Lives: Women's Self-Writing in Modern Japan
Author: Loftus, Ronald P.;
Winner, 2005, Kanner Prize, Western Association of Women Historians

In this fascinating collection of translations, Telling Lives looks at the self-writing of five Japanese women who came of age during the decades leading up to World War II. Following an introduction that situates women’s self-writing against the backdrop of Japan during the 1920s and 1930s, Loftus takes up the autobiographies of Oku Mumeo, a leader of the prewar women’s movement, and Takai Toshio, a textile worker who later became a well-known labor activist. Next is the moving story of Nishi Kyoko, whose Reminiscences tells of her life as a young woman who escapes the oppression of her family and establishes her financial independence. Nishi’s narrative precedes a detailed look at the autobiography of Sata Ineko. Sata’s Between the Lines of My Personal Chronology recounts her years as a member of a proletarian arts circle and her struggle to become a writer. The collection ends with the Marxist Fukunaga Misao’s frank and explosive text Memoirs of a Female Communist, which is examined as a manifesto condemning the male chauvinism of the prewar Japanese Communist Party.

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"This book is essential reading for anyone interested in early twentieth-century Japanese feminists, activists and writers. The autobiographies of women also provide us with a thick general description of women’s lives in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. Any scholar seeking to get a better picture of people’s lives in the interwar years in Japan will find it interesting and useful." —H-Net Reviews, November 2004 (Read full review)

"The strongest aspect of this book is the autobiographical material itself, excerpted and translated ... Loftus has written an excellent introduction." —Choice, March 2005

Author: Loftus, Ronald P.;
Ronald P. Loftus is chair of the Department of Japanese and Chinese at Willamette University.
Read the introduction (PDF).
Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Producing Writing Subjects: Women in the Interwar Years

2. Politics Rooted in Everyday Life: Oku Mumeo’s Fires Burning Brightly (Nobi aka aka to)

3. Changing Consciousness: Takai Toshio’s My Own Sad History of Female Textile Workers (Watashi no jokô aishi)

4. Her Mother’s Voice: Nishi Kiyoko’s Reminiscences (Tsuioku)

5. Re-presenting the Self: Sata Ineko’s Between the Lines of My Personal Chronology (Nen’pu no gyôkan)

6. Resisting Authority: Fukunaga Misao’s Recollections of a Female Communist (Aru onna kyôsanshugisha no kaisô)

7. Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index




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