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Liminality in the late twentieth century : Furui Yoshikichi on physical and mental illness, death, social ostracism, and workplace and ageing stress

posted on 2023-05-27, 17:48 authored by Scott, JM
The liminal is a condition of human existence which has been the concern of Japanese literature throughout its history, since it is an essential ingredient in the experience of crisis. This thesis examines Furui's contribution to this literature of the liminal (my term) - his careful and detailed psycho-socio-analytical studies of the late twentieth century mind in the liminal state. The introductory chapter begins with a brief overview of Furui 's writing and its place in contemporary Japanese literature, especially the literature of the liminal. I go on to outline the general theoretical approaches of the thesis. I base my argument on Turner's socio-anthropological interpretation of the tripartite structure of rites of passage, and focus on his view of the liminal as a threshold period or state in which normal social structures and hierarchies are replaced by the relatively unstructured egalitarianism of community (communitas). Extrapolating the link Turner makes with the philosopher Martin Buber' s view of community in relation to the duality I/thou, I suggest that liminality is common to and representative of the experience ofFurui's characters, and is an extremely effective concept for the analysis of the ambiguities and continually shifting perspectives of his characters' condition. In chapters two to five I look closely at examples of Furui's writing and investigate his exploration of the liminal states which surround social ostracism, illness and mental disturbance, death, and stress in the workplace and as a result of ageing. The intellectual rigour and detail with which he deals with these issues is evidence of his debt to German and Austrian writers of the mid-twentieth century, his field of specialization as a professor of German literature. I also develop the concept of spatial and temporal liminality as important interpretative tools. I explore Furui's style and his debt to the traditional literature of the liminal in Japan, particularly the Noh drama. I account for Furui's portrayal of the mystery and poetry of the liminal condition, which distinguishes his work from medical or sociological treatises. I conclude that Furui' s rigorous and detailed psycho-socio-analytical approach to the critical states of his protagonists, enhanced by his imaginative sensitivity to language and to the philosophical issues involved, serves to distill his characters' predicaments to their essence, allowing the reader a better understanding of their experience ofliving in the late twentieth century.


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Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Library has additionsl copy on microfiche. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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