Lost Leaves: Women Writers of Meiji Japan by Rebecca Copeland

By Rebecca Copeland

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Most jap literary historians have prompt that the Meiji interval (1868-1912) was once without ladies writers yet for the bright exception of Higuchi Ichiyo (1872-1896). Rebecca Copeland demanding situations this declare by way of reading in interesting aspect the lives and literary careers of 3 of Ichiyo's friends, each one consultant of the range and ingenuity of the interval: Miyake Kaho (1868-1944), Wakamatsu Shizuko (1864-1896), and Shimizu Shikin (1868-1933). In a delicately researched advent, Copeland establishes the context for the improvement of girl literary expression. She follows this with chapters on all of the ladies into account. Interspersed all through are excerpts from works lower than dialogue, so much by no means sooner than translated, providing an invluable window into this forgotten international of women's writing.

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Again, in the words of the poet and educator Ikebukuro Kiyokaze: Male and female students possess the same innate ability to learn. . But no matter how extensive a woman’s training, she cannot stand before the world and lecture on her ideas; . . she cannot join government service or become an assemblyman. She cannot do significant work in agriculture or industry. . Her territory is narrow. . While men put their knowledge to use and earn the respect of the world, advancing their names throughout the public realm, no one ever hears of these women.

71 The male writer was free to assume a masculine prerogative, while at the same time resting assured that the native arts were protected and perpetuated by women. A Step Backward Now that literature occupied a visibly social position, literary roles for women, once at the center of the tradition, shifted to its periphery. Iwamoto, in what literary historian Wada Shigejiro¯ has termed a “reversal” of his earlier position on women’s writing as an “appropriate employment,”72 advised that since woman belonged in the home, so too did the woman writer.

85 Not only had a young lady, who should have remained tucked away in her inner rooms with no knowledge of this world, written of matters beyond her ken; she had done so in a haughty and dogmatic fashion. Here was a mere girl, barely twenty, lecturing men. Usurai’s anonymous detractor, it would seem, was not as upset by her topic as by the self-righteous anger that coursed through her essay: Pulling in customers is the tout’s handicraft, as making lace is yours. Whether he draws a customer in or not has nothing to do with you.

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