Edogawa Rampo and the Excess of Vision: An Ocular Critique of Modernity in 1920s Japan

Edogawa Rampo and the Excess of Vision: An Ocular Critique of Modernity in 1920s Japan positions 13:2 Fall 2005 this transparent vision—the sign of modernity—visible through his experimentation with the literary imagination. Rampo’s writing continues to hold literary value for present-day readers not because of its self-induced exoticism, but because of its self-reflective gaze on the nature of modern society through its literary explorations of bodily senses. Before turning to Rampo’s own texts, it is necessary to trace the critical history that has relegated Rampo’s literary imagination to the premodern past. The writings by Tanaka Yûko, Matsuyama Iwao, and Yumeno Kyûsaku provide representative responses to his writings. The early modern historian Tanaka Yûko finds a shared space between Rampo’s literary world and the Edo (1600–1868) cultural sphere, both of which she defines as liminal spaces excluded from modernity. After stating that Rampo incorporates in his work the colorful displays of phantasmagoria, bloodshed, and the grotesque found in Edo’s carnivalesque displays, she continues: If [phantasmagoria, bloodshed, and the grotesque] appear nonmodern (hikindaiteki), that is because there was a style of carnivalesque shows in the Edo [culture] that satisfied the desire for them, and modern [Japan] excluded this style of shows from itself. However, that was only a superficial exclusion, and it was impossible to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

Edogawa Rampo and the Excess of Vision: An Ocular Critique of Modernity in 1920s Japan

positions asia critique, Volume 13 (2) – Sep 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
D.O.I.
10.1215/10679847-13-2-299
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 13:2 Fall 2005 this transparent vision—the sign of modernity—visible through his experimentation with the literary imagination. Rampo’s writing continues to hold literary value for present-day readers not because of its self-induced exoticism, but because of its self-reflective gaze on the nature of modern society through its literary explorations of bodily senses. Before turning to Rampo’s own texts, it is necessary to trace the critical history that has relegated Rampo’s literary imagination to the premodern past. The writings by Tanaka Yûko, Matsuyama Iwao, and Yumeno Kyûsaku provide representative responses to his writings. The early modern historian Tanaka Yûko finds a shared space between Rampo’s literary world and the Edo (1600–1868) cultural sphere, both of which she defines as liminal spaces excluded from modernity. After stating that Rampo incorporates in his work the colorful displays of phantasmagoria, bloodshed, and the grotesque found in Edo’s carnivalesque displays, she continues: If [phantasmagoria, bloodshed, and the grotesque] appear nonmodern (hikindaiteki), that is because there was a style of carnivalesque shows in the Edo [culture] that satisfied the desire for them, and modern [Japan] excluded this style of shows from itself. However, that was only a superficial exclusion, and it was impossible to

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positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2005

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