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Literary Tropes and Familial Incest in Banana Yoshimotos Kitchen the transmission and transfiguration of Noh and post-nuclear family structures family.

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Presentation on theme: "Literary Tropes and Familial Incest in Banana Yoshimotos Kitchen the transmission and transfiguration of Noh and post-nuclear family structures family."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literary Tropes and Familial Incest in Banana Yoshimotos Kitchen the transmission and transfiguration of Noh and post-nuclear family structures family structures Presenter: Michele Gibney, University of San Francisco

2 Thesis In contrast to her detractors, Banana Yoshimoto utilizes elements of traditional and modern literary culture in the novel Kitchen. The tropes that she employs include poetical allusion and Noh dramatic forms. She is also drawing upon a lineage of post-World War II female authors who wrote about the dynamic (re)definition of family structure.

3 Critics of Banana She focuses on the international and cosmopolitan to the detriment of Japanese cultural references She focuses on the international and cosmopolitan to the detriment of Japanese cultural references Inclusion of American pop- cultural icons Inclusion of American pop- cultural icons –Wrapped in a blanket, like Linus, I slept. (5) –The scene reminded me of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. Thinking, what a fake looking green, I turned around… (96) Saccharine and overly upbeat Saccharine and overly upbeat

4 Traditional vs. Modern traditional sensibilities underlie those hip attitudes, and this duality drives much of her work.traditional sensibilities underlie those hip attitudes, and this duality drives much of her work. –Nicole Gaouette

5 Poetical Allusion: Ono no Komachi My dreams were always about Hitoshi. After my painful, fitful sleep, whether or not I have been able to see him, on awakening I would know it had been only a dreamin reality I would never be with him again…I would feel abandoned in the chill and silence of dawn. It was so forlorn and cold, I wished I could be back in the dream. My dreams were always about Hitoshi. After my painful, fitful sleep, whether or not I have been able to see him, on awakening I would know it had been only a dreamin reality I would never be with him again…I would feel abandoned in the chill and silence of dawn. It was so forlorn and cold, I wished I could be back in the dream. (Yoshimoto, 112) (Yoshimoto, 112) Thinking about him, I slept, only to have him Appear before me Had I known it was a dream I should never have wakened. Thinking about him, I slept, only to have him Appear before me Had I known it was a dream I should never have wakened. Ono no Komachi (Keene, 78)

6 Traditional vs. Modern In Noh plays, ghosts appear. And sometimes a characters personality changes entirely. Just by putting on a mask they suddenly become a demon. I think that what I write is very close to that tradition. In Noh plays, ghosts appear. And sometimes a characters personality changes entirely. Just by putting on a mask they suddenly become a demon. I think that what I write is very close to that tradition. –Banana Yoshimoto

7 Moonlight Shadow and Noh Shite - Satsumi Shite - Satsumi Waki - Urara Waki - Urara Seed - origin Seed - origin Poetry – plot impetus Poetry – plot impetus Absentee heroes – Hitoshi Absentee heroes – Hitoshi Ghost - closure Ghost - closure Life to Death vs. Death to Life Life to Death vs. Death to Life Moralistic conclusion Moralistic conclusion

8 Shite and waki Shite = main performer, doer Shite = main performer, doer –Satsumi Waki = the witness, the enabler of the shite Waki = the witness, the enabler of the shite –Urara

9 Seed - origin A Noh play begins from a seedusually from suitable traditional sources. In general this means a poem or a group of poems. A Noh play begins from a seedusually from suitable traditional sources. In general this means a poem or a group of poems. –Terasaki, 29 Moonlight Shadow is a song by Mike Oldfield. Moonlight Shadow is a song by Mike Oldfield. –Four AM in the morning Carried away by a moonlight shadow I watched your vision forming Carried away by a moonlight shadow Stars move slowly in the silvery night Far away on the other side "Will you come to talk to me this night?" But she couldn't find how to push through

10 Absentee heroes - Hitoshi Terasaki calls them: Terasaki calls them: – absentee heroes; without physical presence, they exist mainly in the memories or fantasies of the protagonist, are represented as desire or a void in the womens psyche. (12) his presence is powerfully evoked through a set of verbal constructs. (37) his presence is powerfully evoked through a set of verbal constructs. (37)

11 Poetry – plot impetus There was an electric charge between our hearts and its conduit was the sound of the bell…I could hear it even when he wasnt there. (110) There was an electric charge between our hearts and its conduit was the sound of the bell…I could hear it even when he wasnt there. (110) –Element of sound –Gift of a bell –Present in every encounter –Informs plot thru memory and absence

12 Ghost Introduced Introduced Takes center stage Takes center stage Relegates living to background Relegates living to background The ghost as the other is (dis)placed outside the strongly conventional system of social norm. (Terasaki, 13) The ghost as the other is (dis)placed outside the strongly conventional system of social norm. (Terasaki, 13) Social stigma/socially marginal Social stigma/socially marginal However… However…

13 Critics of Banana She focuses on the international and cosmopolitan to the detriment of Japanese cultural references She focuses on the international and cosmopolitan to the detriment of Japanese cultural references Inclusion of American pop- cultural icons Inclusion of American pop- cultural icons –Wrapped in a blanket, like Linus, I slept. (5) –The scene reminded me of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. Thinking, what a fake looking green, I turned around… (96) Saccharine and overly upbeat Saccharine and overly upbeat

14 Saccharine and overly upbeat Marginalized ghost Marginalized ghost More emphasis on the living More emphasis on the living Comparison with Osama Dazai Comparison with Osama Dazai –glorify suffering, negativism, and death. –encouraged by Yoshimotos novels, and find in them an optimism and brightness absent in their own lives. Ann Sherif. Ann Sherif.

15 Life to Death vs. Death to Life Death appears not an end but as a starting point: the starting point of the transferal of the story, that is, of its survival, of its capacity to go on, to subsist, by means of the repeated passage it effects from death to life, and which effect the narrative. Death appears not an end but as a starting point: the starting point of the transferal of the story, that is, of its survival, of its capacity to go on, to subsist, by means of the repeated passage it effects from death to life, and which effect the narrative. Shoshana Feldman. Terasaki, 20 Shoshana Feldman. Terasaki, 20

16 Moralistic conclusion Parting and death are both terribly painful. But to keep nursing the memory of a love so great you cant believe youll ever love again is a useless drain on a womans energies…So I think its for the best that we were able to say a proper, final good-bye today. (148) Parting and death are both terribly painful. But to keep nursing the memory of a love so great you cant believe youll ever love again is a useless drain on a womans energies…So I think its for the best that we were able to say a proper, final good-bye today. (148)

17 Kitchen and Moonlight Shadow (Re)definition of family structures

18 Post-World War II Women Writers Kono Taeko (1926-) Kono Taeko (1926-) Oba Minako (1930-) Oba Minako (1930-) Sono Ayako (1931-) Sono Ayako (1931-) Ariyoshi Sawako ( ) Ariyoshi Sawako ( ) Takahashi Takako (1932-) Takahashi Takako (1932-) Kurahashi Yumiko (1935-) Kurahashi Yumiko (1935-) Tomioka Taeko (1935-) Tomioka Taeko (1935-) Masuda Mizuko (1948-) Masuda Mizuko (1948-) Yoshimoto Banana (1964-) Yoshimoto Banana (1964-)

19 Philosophy of post-nuclear female authors Rejection of social norms/challenge of social conventions Rejection of social norms/challenge of social conventions –Marriage –Motherhood Explore marginalized sexualities Explore marginalized sexualities –Androgyny –Incest –Homosexuality De-phallicize the male/patriarchy De-phallicize the male/patriarchy

20 De-phallicize the male and reject patriarchy Kitchen No father figures No father figures –Yuji Eriko Reassertion of patriarchal society Reassertion of patriarchal society –Stabbed to death by a knife (phallic)

21 Exploration of marginalized sexualities Androgyny One is struck by the absence of explicit sexual contrastlike the absence of sex itselffrom Kitchen. Mikage and Yuichi, like the so-called boy-girl pairs in all of Yoshimoto Bananas works, retain unarguable signs of maleness and femaleness only in the gender of their names. (Treat, 291) One is struck by the absence of explicit sexual contrastlike the absence of sex itselffrom Kitchen. Mikage and Yuichi, like the so-called boy-girl pairs in all of Yoshimoto Bananas works, retain unarguable signs of maleness and femaleness only in the gender of their names. (Treat, 291)

22 Exploration of marginalized sexualities Incest quasi-sibling, quasi-sexual relationship which always teeters on the incestuous. (Treat, 290) quasi-sibling, quasi-sexual relationship which always teeters on the incestuous. (Treat, 290) the task of measuring the distance and space between two persons. The incest motif indicates, on the metaphysical level, a desire to shorten the distance and space; in other words, a desire for the purest and the closest relationship of love. (Muta, 151) the task of measuring the distance and space between two persons. The incest motif indicates, on the metaphysical level, a desire to shorten the distance and space; in other words, a desire for the purest and the closest relationship of love. (Muta, 151)

23 Exploration of marginalized sexualities Incest although we have always acted as brother and sister, arent we really man and woman in the primordial sense, and dont we think of each other that way? (Kitchen, 66) although we have always acted as brother and sister, arent we really man and woman in the primordial sense, and dont we think of each other that way? (Kitchen, 66) were all brothers and sisters when were in trouble, arent we? I care about you so much, I just want to crawl into the same bed with you. (Moonlight Shadow, 143) were all brothers and sisters when were in trouble, arent we? I care about you so much, I just want to crawl into the same bed with you. (Moonlight Shadow, 143)

24 Exploration of marginalized sexualities Incest Kitchen Kitchen Yuichi: Why is it everything I eat when Im with you is so delicious? Mikage: Could it be that youre satisfying hunger and lust at the same time? (100) –Bloodied hand; with all the joy of a nursing mother (Treat, 287) Moonlight Shadows Moonlight Shadows Satsumi: I always enjoyed what I ate when I was with him. How wonderful that is, I thought. (142) –Ill do Hitoshi –Bell sound Hiiragis laughter

25 Conclusion Transmission and Transfiguration Transmission and Transfiguration –Poetical allusion –Noh –Themes of Japanese women writers in the post- World War II era Past, Present and Future Past, Present and Future –Past - abandoned –Present - hopeful –Future - incestuous


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