A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen PDF

By Doris G. Bargen

During this sophisticated and hugely unique studying of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the function of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine standpoint. in different key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, communicate in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas lower than the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is valuable to making a choice on the position of those spirits. From this male-centered viewpoint, woman jealousy offers a handy reason for the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital method of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's girl authorship and its mostly lady viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary proof, Doris G. Bargen foregrounds the reasons of the possessed personality and found mono no ke in the politics of Heian society, examining spirit ownership as a feminine method followed to counter male recommendations of empowerment. Possessions develop into "performances" through girls trying to redress the stability of strength; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably adjust the development of gender.

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Extra info for A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

Sample text

Although the mono no ke’s appearance is fleeting, its impact on the story is lasting. Mono no ke have very important messages to deliver from the realm of the uncanny. In his attempt to come to grips with the slippery concept of the uncanny, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) used the definition of Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775–1854): “ ‘Unheimlich’ [uncanny] is the name for everything that ought to have remained . . ” 100 On the basis of this and other definitions, Freud developed the idea that the uncanny arouses anxiety because the familiar and the unfamiliar appear in inextricable conjunction.

Heian women were not in a position to substitute—or appropriate—others with the same facility. 107 Murasaki Shikibu’s Demons in the Heart Does the mono of mono no ke refer to the stuff of which the material world is made or is it im-material? Physics or metaphysics? If we rephrase the question in terms favored in Heian times, is the mono reality or dream? To these questions there are no simple answers. Possessing spirits, whether they appear in fictional or in historical narratives, can be “real” in the sense of an actual presence, natural or supernatural, external to the possessed character.

One might think, then, of the startling phenomenon of mono no ke as a figment of the female imagination, a religious sign, a figure of speech, or, quite literally, a metafictional character. Although the mono no ke’s appearance is fleeting, its impact on the story is lasting. Mono no ke have very important messages to deliver from the realm of the uncanny. In his attempt to come to grips with the slippery concept of the uncanny, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) used the definition of Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775–1854): “ ‘Unheimlich’ [uncanny] is the name for everything that ought to have remained .

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A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen


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