One Novel, 442 Footnotes and Two Tokyos: Tanaka Yasuo’s ‘Nantonaku, Kurisutaru’ and Pierre Macherey’s Literary Theories

By Phillip Musgrave.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What is the implication in a narrative of the representation of certain features of a city being given prominence, in opposition to an under-representation of other features of the city? The Japanese novelist Tanaka Yasuo represented Tokyo in such a way in his novel from 1981, Nantonaku, kurisutaru (Somewhat, crystal). In this paper I will answer this question by looking at the voice of the narrator, Yuri, of Tanaka’s novel, and also the voice of the author, Tanaka who supplied 442 footnotes. I will also look at the work of the French literary theorist Pierre Macherey, who is concerned with the gap between what we can say of a literary work, and what the work itself is saying. In light of this, Tanaka’s novel gives us an extremely interesting situation for the reader to determine who is saying what about Tokyo.
In both the footnotes and the narrative of the novel, many references to Tokyo are made, yet there is a difference in the parts of Tokyo represented in the narrative. The places that feature in the narrative time are associated with good times and special occasions. These kinds of places are mentioned outside narrative time as well, but it is significant that the other places, the ordinary, the everyday places are exclusively outside narrative time. These differences are amplified in the footnotes in a sarcastic and parodic fashion.
The paper will demonstrate that Tanaka’s choice of proper nouns and how he uses them has far reaching implications, indicative of a certain time and place in recent Japanese history.

Keywords: Tanaka Yasuo, Nantonaku, Kurisutaru, Tokyo, Pierre Macherey

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 9, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 830.441KB).

Phillip Musgrave

Casual Lecturer and Candidate for PhD, Japanese Studies, Department of Asian Studies, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Phillip is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He teaches Japanese Reading at Macquarie University and also is a tutor for students of the IB Japanese ab initio course. His research interest is the notion of place in the narratives of Modern Japanese Literature, with a special interest in urban space and its description in the Modern Japanese Novel. His present academic interest follows on from an earlier but related interest in the literature that emerged from the aftermath of the bursting of the Japanese economic bubble. Phillip comes to his doctorate after a career that has included high school teaching of Japanese, part time lecturing at university in Japanese programmes, and time spent in Japan, totalling about nine and a half years, where he taught English, researched both Japanese language teaching and language acquisition, Japanese Literature and also took on a position in editing English proficiency tests in Japan.

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