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From the violent to the comic through the power of the text: Nogami Yaeko reading Jane Austen in Japan

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Hartley, B (2008) From the violent to the comic through the power of the text: Nogami Yaeko reading Jane Austen in Japan. HECATE, 34 (2). pp. 32-48. ISSN 0311-4198

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Abstract

Nogami Yaeko (1885-1985) was one of modern Japan's most revered
woman novelists. She was also a great admirer of the writing of Jane
Austen. Nogami Yaeko first read Jane Austen as a young woman.
However, in 1926, at the age of forty-one, her understanding of the
English writer's work became much more profound when she was
asked to proof-read her husband's translation into Japanese of Jane
Austen's 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice (or at least the section of
that novel up to when Darcy first proposes to Elizabeth Bennet). This
close reading of Pride and Prejudice gave Nogami Yaeko, hereafter
referred to by her given name, Yaeko, a great deal of textual
pleasure. Scholars such as Eleanor Hogan and Tamura Michio have
also suggested that the reading left an indelible mark on aspects of
Yaeko's future text production, including narrative structure and
themes relating to marriage. In this article I will argue that Austen's
playful sense of humour and love of the comic, deployed so skilfully
in Pride and Prejudice against the self-important and overbearing
male, made an equally strong impact on the aspiring woman writer
making a careful reading of the narrative in Japan. However, I want
to suggest that, rather than being expressed in subsequent textual
production, Austen's comic methodology armed Yaeko to develop
effective personal and professional strategies to deal with the highly
masculinised environs of the pre-war Japanese literary community.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: HECATE
Page Range: pp. 32-48
ISSN: 0311-4198
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2009 05:11
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:00
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