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Samurai with Telephones

Anachronism in Japanese Literature

Subjects: Asian Studies, Japan, Literary Studies, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9780472056873, 256 pages, 12 photographs, cartoons, and drawings, 6 x 9, July 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076871, 256 pages, 12 photographs, cartoons, and drawings, 6 x 9, July 2024
Ebook : 9780472904518, 256 pages, 12 photographs, cartoons, and drawings, 6 x 9, July 2024
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What anachronisms reveal about historical narratives through Early Modern and Modern Japanese cultural products

Table of contents

Introduction: Seeing Anachronism Structure of the book     Chapter 1: Towards a Theory of Anachronism    
Chapter 2: From Monologic to Dialogic     Samurai as Modern Subject in Mori Ōgai’s “Abe ichizoku”
Bushi and Bourgeois: Monologic Marxism in Kamui-den
A Riot of Anachronism: History and power in Man’en gannen no futtobōru    
Resistance to Monologue
Dreaming in anachronism Chapter 3: Gags With An Agenda: Anachronism In Tezuka Osamu’s Hi No Tori Dismantling National Myth with Anachronism
Benkei and the Denaturing of Loyalty Chapter 4: Speaking The Same Language: Anachronisms Of Interoperability In Contemporary Popular Culture The City of the Future is Edo: Seibā marionetto J
Anachronistic Interoperability of State Institutions in Naruto
Samurai who read Shōnen Jump in Gintama
Hip-Hop and Anachronistic Marginality in Samurai chanpurū
Riffs on Tradition: Interoperability in Visual Art
The Severing of Tradition in the Works of Murakami Takashi
Defiantly Appropriating the Past in the Paintings of Tenmyouya Hisashi
Displacing the Samurai in the Works of Noguchi Tetsuya     Chapter 5: Playing With Samurai: Anachronism In Edo Literature Ōmu-gaeshi bunbu no futamichi
Daihi no senrokuhon
Nise Murasaki inaka Genji Chapter 6: Acting Out The Past: Anachronism In Edo Theatre Metadramatic anachronism
Appropriating Samurai Heroes in Sukeroku yukari no Edo-zakura
The mago-deshi of the Ancients: Sugawara denju tenarai kagami
Sexy Heroes in Yoshitsune senbon zakura Conclusion


What is going on when a graphic novel has a twelfth-century samurai pick up a telephone to make a call, or a play has an ancient aristocrat teaching in a present-day schoolroom? Rather than regarding such anachronisms as errors, Samurai with Telephones develops a theory of how texts can use different types of anachronisms to challenge or rewrite history, play with history, or open history up to new possibilities. By applying this theoretical framework of anachronism to several Japanese literary and cultural works, the book demonstrates how different texts can use anachronism to open up history for a wide variety of different textual projects. 

From the modern period, author Christopher Smith examines literature by Mori Ōgai and Ōe Kenzaburō, manga by Tezuka Osamu, art by Murakami Takashi, and a variety of other pop cultural works. Turning to the Early Modern period (Edo period, 1600–1868), which produced a literature rich with playful anachronism, he also examines several Kabuki and Bunraku plays, kibyōshi comic books, and gōkan illustrated novels. In analyzing these works, he draws a distinction between anachronisms that attempt to hide their work on history and convincingly rewrite it and those conspicuous anachronisms that highlight and disrupt the construction of historical narratives.

Christopher Smith is Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of Florida.