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The “I” in the Making

Rethinking the Japanese shishōsetsu in a Global Age

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Justyna Weronika Kasza

The book centres around the topic of subjectivity and self-representation in contemporary Japanese literature and offers a new approach to the genre of shishōsetsu (the I-novel).

It reassesses the works of Dazai Osamu, Ōe Kenzaburō, Endō Shūsaku, Murakami Haruki, and of the translingual writers - Mizumura Minae, Hideo Levy, Tawada Yōko - to expose the wide-ranging treatment of personal experiences, and the intricate relations between the characters, the narrator, and the writing persona.

In the context of world fiction and autobiography theories, the book investigates literary and linguistic challenges in expressing the “self.” The shishōsetsu are explored as stories of constructing identities between cultures, languages, literary canons, and testimonies of untranslatability of the self.

Self and subjectivity in contemporary Japanese fiction – theories in autobiography (Paul Ricoeur, Philippe Lejeune, John Paul Eakin, Serge Doubrovsky) – world literature – comparative literature – cultural translation – cognitive functions of untranslatability – authorship in Japanese literature