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The city as liminal protagonist in Takeda Taijun's Shanhai no Hotaru (Shanghai Firefly)


Hartley, Barbara, The city as liminal protagonist in Takeda Taijun's Shanhai no Hotaru (Shanghai Firefly), Proceedings of the 18th Conference of The Japanese Studies Association of Australia, 8-11 July 2013, Canberra, pp. 1-11. ISBN 9780975032121 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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This paper examines liminality in Shanghai no hotaru (Shanghai Firefly), the last and incomplete work of post-war writer, Takeda Taijun (1912-1976). I use the term liminality here in the sense of occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold and therefore implying the ambiguity and disorientation that is a strong characteristic of the Shanghai Firefly narrative. This liminal instability derives to some extent from the international character of Shanhgai. It is also closely associated with the tension between subversion of and complicity with the policies of the invader Japanese administration that is apparent in the activities of both the cityís local Shanghai-ese and Japanese minor functionary sojourners, including the novelís narrator himself. Shanghai Firefly is a series of fictional recollections of the authorís time in Shanghai from June 1944 until mid-1945 during which time Japanís fanatical aspirations for victory in total war were clearly leading to disastrous outcomes for all. In this text, the author creates a narrative terrain which sees the narrator/protagonist aimlessly wandering the great Chinese city, an urban space that on occasions completely defies the young manís understanding. I will probe the liminality that underpins Takedaís representation of the city of Shanghai by providing a close reading of excerpts from the "Haien" (Decaying Garden) chapter Ė the second last Ė of the novel.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:Takeda Taijun, Shanghai, liminality, imperial Japan
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Asian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Asia's past
UTAS Author:Hartley, Barbara (Dr Barbara Hartley)
ID Code:89834
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2014-03-17
Last Modified:2017-11-21
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