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Disruptions of Daily LifeJapanese Literary Modernism in the World$
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Arthur M. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752919

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752919.001.0001

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Fetishism of the West in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s A Fool’s Love

Fetishism of the West in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s A Fool’s Love

(p.53) Chapter 1 Fetishism of the West in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s A Fool’s Love
Disruptions of Daily Life

Arthur M. Mitchell

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses Tanizaki Jun'ichirō's A Fool's Love, which was written in 1924 after the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. The work responds to the rhetoric of social reform of the early 1920s that led up to that watershed event. Collectively referred to as daily life reform (seikatsu kaizen), these high-minded reform initiatives sought to discipline citizens, particularly women, to align their daily habits of consumption within the home with the interests of the state. The language of these reform efforts sublimated national geopolitical ambitions into consumer fantasies of efficient and sophisticated “Western style” living, as well as ideals of “love,” marriage, and “moral character.” Tanizaki's novel features a middle-class narrator who tells the story of how he fell in love with a young café waitress and divulges the details of their married daily life together. Thus, while the narrator's fantasy life is cloaked in the language of progressive reform, the actual life he describes turns out to be based in sadomasochistic pleasure and fetishistic desire. The chapter shows how the novel in this way subverts the language of daily life reform that was ubiquitous in the magazines and newspapers of the the late 1910s and early 1920s, exposing the contradictions of the ideologies embodied in that rhetoric.

Keywords:   Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, daily life reform, seikatsu kaizen, Japanese citizens, Western-style living, progressive reform, social reform, Great Kantō Earthquake

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