Dangerous women, deadly words: phallic fantasy and modernity by Nina Cornyetz

By Nina Cornyetz

Risky girls, lethal phrases is a materialist-feminist, psychoanalytic research of a latest eastern literary trope—the harmful woman—in the works of 3 twentieth-century writers: Izumi Kyoka (1873-1939), Enchi Fumiko (1905-86), and Nakagami Kenji (1946-92). associated with archaisms and magical nation-states, the trope of the harmful, spiritually empowered lady culls from and commingles archetypes from through the eastern canon, together with mountain witches, woman shamans, and snake-women. In radical competition to the traditional interpretation of the trope as a repository for transhistorical notions of “female essence” and “Japaneseness,” the writer reads the harmful lady as attached in advanced methods with twentieth-century eastern epistemological upheavals: the negotiation of recent phallic subjectivity, modernization of a homosocial economic system, the significantly replaced prestige of girls, reified maternity, obligatory heterosexuality, and the functionality of literature.The harmful lady enabled the literary beginning of a contemporary, phallic, nationwide topic as its constitutive different, the locus of “originary” hope, hence the area of the Lacanian genuine and, consequently, the abject. decided through the cultural abhorrence that provides form in language to the earliest psychic procedures of setting apart self from not-self, the harmful lady is usually the locus for jouissance, a kind of erotic excitement that threatens the soundness of the experiential subject.The book’s shut literary readings are deeply anchored within the gendered cultural and literary features of 3 sessions in Japan’s modernity. the writer lines the trope of the harmful girl via its institution as a male imaginary by way of gothic storyteller Kyoka, its next cooption for woman erotic organisation via Enchi, and its final destabilization by means of Nakagami via a phallic retroping of archaisms partially depending on an equation of the social discourses on outcaste toxins with these of gay and feminine abjection.

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Extra resources for Dangerous women, deadly words: phallic fantasy and modernity in three Japanese writers

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This is what Nakamura and Muramatsu meant when they used the loan word feminism (feminisumu). For them feminism meant a thetic elevation of biologically female characterscommonly in the form of sexually alluring and mysteriously powerful enchantresses. Yet Kyoka's* "beautiful enchantresses" are inextricably linked with death. "5The following chapters will show that, when one gives more than a cursory glance at his narratives, it is clear that Kyoka's* rendering of women is inseparable from a Meiji/Taisho construct of a masculine subject as the norm and the concurrent crafting of the female as Other with naturalized access to a domain at once maternalized and abjected.

Furthermore, the majority read this troping as inseparable from what they understood to be Kyoka's* resolute resistance to modernity. She, they insisted, was convention evoked against modern realism. This standardized interpretation reappeared in the secondary literature on both Enchi and Nakagami. The dangerous woman's eroticized and deadly body is associated with an ancient animism of specific Japanese origin and is regarded as a repository for a "unique" Japanese cultural essence: she thus functions as a channel to an (imagined) "womb" of Japanese folklore.

Powerful women can be found isolated in the mountains devouring or bewitching the hapless men and children who wander into their magical domains, communicating with the deities, or spiritually possessing other women. These women stand as a testament to a tenacious, yet peripheral, presence in Japanese literature of powerful women who confront the dictates of male dominance and familial need. However, modern renditions of the dangerous woman stand aloof from the archaic and medieval portrayals that preceded her.

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