By Stephen Snyder
The literary occupation of Nagai Kafu is usually noticeable as an act of nostalgia, the necessary go back to Japan within the kind of an extended look for the conventional previous in a speedily modernizing Tokyo. Kafu is healthier referred to as a lyrical author of elegies to a vanished Tokyo, whose paintings is stylistically wealthy but lacks highbrow intensity. instead of specialize in the writer's lyricism and imagery as different critics have performed earlier than him, the writer examines Kafu's fiction by way of narrative method, putting him squarely inside of probably the most very important currents of literary modernism - on the nexus of naturalism and the principally antithetical improvement of the modernist reflexive novel. Snyder argues persuasively that Kafu either discovered from and finally parodied the naturalists, hence making a form of self-conscious fiction, which instead of trying the naturalist technique of offering "real life", attracts realization to its very fictionality and the significant position of language in narrative.
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Extra info for Fictions of Desire: Narrative Form in the Novels of Nagai Kafū
These substantial similarities in terms of tone and content give evidence of Kafû’s reading of Maupassant. It is no exaggeration to suggest that the brothel he depicts is as much a product of his reading as any other sort of “research” he might have done in New York. A brief examination of “Maison Tellier,” however, suggests several elements more fundamental than tone or decorative detail that Kafû might have gleaned from Maupassant’s story. In his portrait of a rural brothel, Maupassant is concerned with the ironic potential of the demimonde setting, engendered by complex and often conflicting societal attitudes toward prostitution.
69 Jerusalem, like Ògai in the writing of Gan, seems to anticipate the complex relationship elaborated by a number of recent critics between the depiction of sexual desire in a text (erotic textuality) and the seduction of the reader by a text (textual erotics). Ògai, however, while apparently fully aware of this potential relationship, is problematizing rather than celebrating it. In Vita sexualis, sexual desire is in the foreground and yet oddly absent. In Gan, the situation is yet more ambiguous: the narrative both seduces and lays bare the highly artificial mechanism of seduction.
Gai seems to regret that a narrator can never be both above and in a story at once, a truthful narrator and a character at the same time. When the narrator tells his own story, as in “Maihime,” the narrative is in immediate danger of bad faith; indeed, Òta’s monologue cannot help but impress the reader as self-serving at best. The only solution is for the narrator to tell someone else’s story objectively, unemotionally. The genius of “Fumizukai” is the way Ògai then undermines this objective alternative; stories, he suggests, have a way of drawing their tellers in, the act of telling being inextricably bound up with the story itself, and the tragedy of the storyteller is the painful suspension between truth and representation, objectivity and desire.
Fictions of Desire: Narrative Form in the Novels of Nagai Kafū by Stephen Snyder