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"Naughty girls," "bad wives" and "unwise mothers" : subtitle early stories by Oba Minako in the literary-social context of Japan in the 1960s Lennikov, Mikhail A.

Abstract

This thesis explores Ȏba Minako's (1930-) philosophy of the feminine in the literarysocial context of Japan of the 1960s. Ȏba is one of the most remarkable contemporary Japanese women writers both as a talented author and a social nonconformist. Ȏba's revolutionary concepts of the feminine were the most explicitly articulated in her early stories, "Kȏzu no nai e" [Picture with no Composition] (1963), "Niji to ukihashi" [The Rainbow and a Floating Bridge] (1967) and "Sanbiki no kani" [The Three Crabs] (1967). The main body of my thesis consists of three chapters. Chapter One begins with a brief overview of the basic aspects of human sexuality, the genesis of the institution qf marriage and family, and the roots of the subordinate status of women. It also includes a very concise history of the gender relations in premodern Japan and the evolution of those into the reactionary concept "ryȏsai kenbo" [good wife, wise mother] during the Meiji period (1868-1911). This concept survived Japan's defeat in the Pacific War and the following democratization of the country's political and social systems. In 1960s in Japan it still remained a dominant idea in gender relations. The second chapter of my thesis deals with the texts of Ȏba's early stories, mentioned above. These works are analyzed in order to conceptualize Ȏba's views on the feminine and the marital-familial system. Chapter Three briefly outlines the situation in Japanese women's literature in the 1960s and discusses four pieces of the female fiction of that time-"Parutai" [Partei] (1960) by Kurahashi Yumiko, "Banshȏ" [Evening Bells] (1960) by Harada Yasuko, "Kiji" [Pheasant] (1963) by Setouchi Harumi and "Saigo no toki" [The Last Time] (1966) by Kȏno Taeko . Having examined the above-mentioned texts, I conclude that the philosophy of the feminine, which Ȏba Minako articulated in her early stories, boldly and openly challenged the Japanese establishment and its "good wife, wise mother" dogma, which remained a cornerstone of gender relations in the 1960s. The radicalism and unorthodoxy of this author's views went far ahead of her time, having almost no analogues in Japanese women's literature of that time.

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