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The Mother, the Daughter, and the Sexed Body, in Enchi Fumiko's 'Fuyu Momiji'

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 22:13 authored by Barbara HartleyBarbara Hartley
According to Luce Irigaray, Western culture depends on the murder of the mother (cited in Whitford, 1991, 75). In Japan, too, the mother is subject to a range of phallocentric mythologies which, while they may not result in her murder, certainly seek to erase any dimension of sexual desire in her representation. Enchi Fumiko is a writer whose work contests this decorous asexuality the patriarchy would inscribe on the mother, this cultural imaginary which refuses to symbolize the maternal feminine in any manner other than that which suppresses active sexuality. Enchi is also a writer who foregrounds the mother-daughter, or older woman-younger woman, relationship as a site in which feminine sexuality might be inflected through the generations. Crucial elements of her narrative are constructed around the tension which exists between the mother and the daughter. This tension often arises from the older woman's struggle with her own sexuality in light of the sexual identity and experience she observes in the figure of the daughter.


Publication title

Love and Sexuality in Japanese Literature




Summer 1999






School of Humanities


Proceedings of the Midwest Association for Japanese Literary Studies

Place of publication

Purdue University

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Asia’s past

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