Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature

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U of Minnesota Press, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 302 pages
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Despite its centuries-long tradition of literary and artistic depictions of love between men, around the fin de siècle Japanese culture began to portray same-sex desire as immoral. Writing the Love of Boys looks at the response to this mindset during the critical era of cultural ferment between the two world wars as a number of Japanese writers challenged the idea of love and desire between men as pathological.
Jeffrey Angles focuses on key writers, examining how they experimented with new language, genres, and ideas to find fresh ways to represent love and desire between men. He traces the personal and literary relationships between contemporaries such as the poet Murayama Kaita, the mystery writers Edogawa Ranpo and Hamao Shirō, the anthropologist Iwata Jun’ichi, and the avant-garde innovator Inagaki Taruho.
Writing the Love of Boys shows how these authors interjected the subject of male–male desire into discussions of modern art, aesthetics, and perversity. It also explores the impact of their efforts on contemporary Japanese culture, including the development of the tropes of male homoeroticism that recur so often in Japanese girls’ manga about bishōnen love.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Murayama Kaita and the Language of Personal Sensation
37
Homoerotic Fantasies in Murayama Kaitas Prose
75
SameSex Desire in Edogawa Ranpos Mystery Fiction
107
Ranpo and the Creation of Queer History
143
Aesthetic Resistance in Taruhos Writing
193
Postwar Legacies
225
Acknowledgments
247
Notes
251
Bibliography
273
Index
291
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About the author (2011)

Jeffrey Angles is associate professor of modern Japanese literature and translation studies at Western Michigan University.

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