Kazuo Ishiguro's : Constructions of Otherness
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The Western world has long exercised a fascination with Japan, whether it was with its peculiar culture and ways of living or with the determination and heroism of the Japanese soldiers, admired during the WW II even by their enemies. The disaster at the end of the war, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, shook the world. Their surrender, in Emperor Hirohito’s words, broadcast on the radio, on August 15, 1945, emphasised that pursuing the fight further “not only would result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization” (Jewel Voice Broadcast, August 14th, 1945). In the aftermath of the war, Japan continued to impress with their resoluteness to ‘put their house in order’, while also starting, albeit subtly, a mostly economic, but also cultural process of ‘Japanisation’. The publication of James Clavell’s bestseller, Shogun, in the 1970s, and the associated success of its adaptation into a television series in 1980 greatly contributed to what Westerners thought to be awareness of the Japanese history and culture. This novel, based on real, historical events, indeed, but from a Western perspective which can be described as Orientalist, drew the interest of many for the ‘real thing’ (with the pile of grains of salt that this ‘real’ entails when talking about fiction), i.e. for Japanese literature (set in Japan, written by the Japanese), which, in turn, brought international success for authors such as Kenzaburō Ōe or Haruki Murakami. They are read worldwide, in translation, which, naturally, dilutes and mediates the text, leading, in many cases, to misunderstandings. It was high time representations of the Oriental world were given a third-space perspective, one that is neither Orientalist, nor so utterly alien; in short, one that could accommodate both Western reading preferences and Eastern cultures.
- Teze de doctorat