Jump to: navigation, search

Ljiljana Markovi?

Reception of European Women's Writing in Japan till the end of the 19th century.


Neo-Confucian framework of social values and relationships, enriched and filled in by indigenous, ancient Shinto world-outlook embracing the cult of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, represents an ethical milieu within which this work purports to examine the dynamically changing role of women in the process of development and modernisation of Japan's culture in the period spanning the second half of the 19th century.

It was precisely in the vehement decades of this period that Japanese women ascertained their role in the rapidly changing society, having been inspired by ideas expounded by Western writers, both male and female. The focus of our attention will be on how Japanese female writers, teachers and intellectuals translated and absorbed the multilayered messages and codes from their Western female colleagues. With that in mind, we shall analyse the opus of the Japanese female activist and poet Shizuko Wakamatsu who translated poems written by Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864), in 1887, using classical poetic style. She deliberately wrote down the translation mostly in hiragana, the ortographic choice of the female writers of Japan's literary golden age of the poetesses who served as ladies in waiting at the Imperial Court in Kyoto. It is remarkable that poetry had been preferred by Japanese translators of this period.

The impact of translated works as well as of Western female authors' works which had been read by Japanese women shall be observed in three major functional planes:

  • as impact on literary development in Japanese female literature and literary movements producing journals, such as Seito (The Blue-stocking, which started coming out regularly in 1911);
  • on the development of a new, female language (highly polite vernacular meant to embody and express the female ideals and virtues);
  • impact on the improvement of the social position and role of women, leaning significantly on the powerful modernising role of education for women (women's learned societies and journals, women's education institutions, the five young women, Ryo Yoshimasu, Ume Tsuda, Suematsu Yamakawa, Tei Ueda and Shige Nagai, the youngest of whom had been 8 years old, who had been sent as members of the Japanese official Iwakura mission to the USA in 1871, with a view to civilising the Japanese society, etc.).

AsK, September 2012

Personal tools