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Dodd, Stephen (2023) 'Living on the Edge: The Negotiation of Modern Borders in Nagai Kafū’s Amerika monogatari.' In: Uchiyama, Akiko and Hartley, Barbara, (eds.), Border-Crossing Japanese Literature: Reading Multiplicity. London: Routledge, pp. 43-58. (Routledge Contemporary Japan Series)

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This chapter argues that Nagai Kafū’s (1879–1959) literary works can be read as a series of negotiations with multiple borders. Indeed, it is this very encounter with a range of diverse realities both within Japan and abroad that informed Kafū’s experience of life and made him a truly modern writer. I will explore this thesis primarily through Kafū’s Amerika monogatari (Tales of America, 1903–1907), a collection of short stories based on his travels through the United States. The stories discussed here articulate most obviously the shock of the new that confronted the writer and the border-crossings invoked by these encounters with the new. However, more metaphorical border-crossings also come under scrutiny. For instance, how did Kafū’s foreign travels reshape his understanding of borders between self and other? To what extent did demarcations of class and race inform his literature? Moreover, given his immersion in Western culture over several years, is it even possible to assume the existence of unambiguous distinctions between Japanese and Western identity within his writing? The multiple borders highlighted within Amerika monogatari are also placed within a broader, cultural context through reference to Kafū’s experience of modernity, both before he left for America and just after his return to Japan.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
ISBN: 9780367697730
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the chapter accepted for publication in Uchiyama, Akiko and Hartley, Barbara, (eds.), Border-Crossing Japanese Literature: Reading Multiplicity. London: Routledge, pp. 43-58 (2023). (Routledge Contemporary Japan Series). Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2023 16:55

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