Woman Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women's Writing
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296pp. May 2006
Woman Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women's Writing
Editor: Copeland, Rebecca;
"Woman Critiqued will make us wonder why we thought we could grasp modern Japanese literature without concerted attention to what men and women had to say about women’s literary production. This remarkable collection is full of surprises, even where predictable arguments are being made. Careful translations of writings by the familiar and the obscure, together with thought-provoking introductions and supporting apparatus, make this an indispensable text for the study of modern Japanese culture and society." —Norma M. Field, University of Chicago

Over the past thirty years translations of Japanese women’s writing and biographies of women writers have enriched and expanded our understanding of modern Japanese literature. But how have women writers been received and read in Japan? To appreciate the subterfuges, strategies, and choices that the modern Japanese woman writer has faced, readers must consider the criticisms leveled against her, the expectations and admonitions that have been whispered in her ear, and pay attention to the way she herself has responded. What did it mean to be a woman writer in twentieth-century Japan? How was she defined and how did this definition limit her artistic sphere?

Woman Critiqued builds on existing scholarship by offering English-language readers access to some of the more salient critiques that have been directed at women writers, on the one hand, and reactions to these by women writers, on the other. The grouping of the essays into chapters organized by theme clarifies how the discussion in Japan has been framed by certain assumptions and how women have repeatedly tried to intervene by playing with, undercutting, or attempting to exceed these assumptions. Chapter introductions contextualize the translated essays historically and draw out aspects that warrant particular scrutiny or explication.

Although the translators do not cover all aspects or genres identified with women’s literary endeavors in the twentieth-century, they provide a significant understanding of the evaluative systems under which Japanese women writers have worked. Woman Critiqued will be eagerly read by specialists in modern Japanese literature and those interested in comparative literature, women’s studies, gender studies, and history.

Featured writers: Akitsu Ei, Akiyama Shun, Hara Shiro, Hasegawa Izumi, Kobayashi Hideo, Kora Rumiko, Matsuura Rieko, Mishima Yukio, Mitsuhashi Takajo, Mizuta Noriko, Miwata Masako, Oguri Fuyo, Okuno Takeo, Ooka Makoto, Saito Minako, Shibusawa Tatsuhiko, Setouchi Harumi, Takahara Eiri, Takahashi Junko, Takahashi Takako, Tanaka Miyoko, Tomioka Taeko, Tsujii Takashi, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, Tsushima Yoko, Yosano Akiko.

Translators: Tomoko Aoyama, Jan Bardsley, Janine Beichman, Rebecca L. Copeland, Mika Endo, Joan E. Ericson, Barbara Hartley, Maryellen Toman Mori, Yoshiko Nagaoka, Kathryn Pierce, Laurel Rasplica Rodd, Amanda Seaman, Eiji Sekine, Judy Wakabayashi.

“An excellent contribution to the study of women’s literature in Japan. Filling a definite need, it will be useful both for scholars working on modern culture and literature and for assignment in the classroom. Its effectiveness owes much to the synthesis of the carefully wrought introductions to the individual chapters with convincing translations of primary texts.” —Monumenta Nipponica (62:1)
Editor: Copeland, Rebecca;
Rebecca Copeland is associate professor of Japanese literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Read the table of contents and/or the introduction (PDF).



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