Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin, Chatarina Edfeldt, Lung-Lung Hu, Herbert Jonsson and André Leblanc
Transcultural Identity as a Personal Myth: The Case of Amélie Nothomb
Amélie Nothomb, one of the most widely read French-speaking writers, is a good example of a cross-cultural writer. While stating repeatedly that being born in Japan means that this country is like her own, at the same time, she considers herself primarily Belgian. This paradox is expressed very convincingly in her most widely read novel Fear and Trembling, first published in French in 1999, which has sold in several million copies.1 The theme of this work is certainly one reason for its success: the narrator, who is Amélie Nothomb herself, struggles with the many rigidities of Yumimoto, a large Japanese company, in which she tries in vain to find her place during one year, at the very beginning of the 1990s. After starting out as a translator, she becomes secretary accountant, but since she makes mistakes in her work, she ends up as a toilet attendant.
Another reason for the success of this so-called autobiographical novel is its intercultural character in that it not only explores the theme of the Belgian narrator trying to adapt as much as possible to the Japanese culture, but is also interesting with regard to its reception since it is based on intercultural relations. In terms of the aesthetics of reception, as outlined by Hans-Robert Jauss, the reception of this novel is quite complex since it is based on a double effect: it is governed simultaneously by its ethnographic value in its horizon of expectation (as this work paints...
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