Analyzes the four main tenth- and eleventh-century Heian memoirs by women for their individual characteristics and what they suggest of Heian literature more broadly.
Objects of Discourse analyzes the four main 10th- and 11th-century Heian memoirs by women for their individual characteristics and what they suggest of Heian literature more broadly. John R. Wallace treats the Heian women memoirists not as passive objects of men’s romantic play but rather as individuals who strategically confront their difficult life situations in part by writing about their experiences. Wallace further finds in the memoirs a rich resource for understanding rhetorical and structural features of Japan’s high classical period literary prose.After taking up historical issues such as the newly developed vernacular script, pre-texts of the memoirs, and the social context of the writers, Wallace examines Gossamer Years, Lady Izumi’s Story, Lady Murasaki’s Journal, and The Sarashina Memoir for their stylistic aspects, rhetorical devices, Foucault’s “networks of power,” and narrative structure, respectively. The result is a fascinating study of Heian women writers.
John Wallace is Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a faculty Fulbright scholar at the University of Tokyo in the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture in 1995–96.
"Insightful passages of close reading are embedded in an impressive marshaling of the Japanese scholarship on the genre of women's memoirs."—Robert O. Khan, Monumenta Nipponica