Download 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 analyzing of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the position of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine perspective. in numerous key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, converse in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas below the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is valuable to choosing the position of those spirits. From this male-centered standpoint, woman jealousy offers a handy cause of the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital procedure of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's girl authorship and its principally lady viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary facts, 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 technique followed to counter male innovations of empowerment. Possessions turn into "performances" through girls trying to redress the stability of energy; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably modify the development of gender.

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

Example text

It is taken for granted that writers and poets are sometimes able to reach into the innermost recesses of consciousness and make lucid what renders the rest of us inarticulate. But how did the illustrators of monogatari convey with a palette of colors and the stroke of a brush what went on inside the courtly structures in which they placed their enigmatic figures? As in all forms of aesthetic communication, it seems that barriers had to be surmounted, fences had to be peeked through. The subtle intimacies in the Genji must have posed a challenge to illustrators that could be met only by a drastic measure—by a painterly innovation that literally blew the roofs off the aristocratic mansion (shinden) by means of a technique called fukinuki-yatai.

As the ambassador to China, he was well versed in Chinese learning. He was also resented by his rivals from the Fujiwara clan for his superior influence at the Heian court. In time, his opponents won the upper hand and Michizane was exiled to Tsukushi (Kyûshû), where he died. 87 One may detect a note of annoyance in Ivan Morris’ description of a religious syncretism pushed to what seems to him the point of absurdity: It will be noticed that . . the [Heian] exorcists were members of the Buddhist clergy.

As artists lost the ability to work directly from the text, their slavish adherence to manuals meant that “the central iconographic program . . ”124 Nonetheless, nagging questions about how to represent in picture the elusive mono no ke of Murasaki Shikibu’s text were occasionally transformed into new artistic challenges. Could the visual arts make visible the invisible, just as the Genji monogatari succeeded in expressing the unspeakable? Yûgao To understand the meaning of mono no ke in the Genji monogatari it is important to recognize that readers have been influenced by artistic conceptions of mono no ke scenes.

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