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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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Subversions of Ethnicity in Yokomitsu Riichi’s Neo-Sensationist Writings

Subversions of Ethnicity in Yokomitsu Riichi’s Neo-Sensationist Writings

(p.101) Chapter 2 Subversions of Ethnicity in Yokomitsu Riichi’s Neo-Sensationist Writings
Disruptions of Daily Life

Arthur M. Mitchell

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Yokomitsu Riichi's urban fiction, as well as his modernist treatise, in the context of the rhetoric of urban renewal that emerged in the wake of the Great Kantō Earthquake. The earthquake, which precipitated a crisis in the ideology of progress that had fueled national modernization for the previous several decades, inflected the fervor over-consumption practices promoted in the language of daily life reform to focus much more intensively on the self and the spirit. Yokomitsu responded to this through his “Neo-Sensationist” (shinkankaku) literature. His essay of that title strategically employs Kantian phenomenology to complicate and subvert essentialist phenomenological models and expose the ideologies of ethnic purity they implied. His urban fiction employed perceptually disorienting language to narrate the experience of protagonists who become cognitively estranged from their environments. In this way, his fiction directly disputed the ethnic essentialism that was chauvinistically being posited as the foundation for a new imperial urban renaissance.

Keywords:   Yokomitsu Riichi, urban fiction, modernist treatise, Great Kantō Earthquake, Neo-Sensationist literature, ethnic purity, ethnic essentialism, urban renaissance

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