Threatening Sights, Coveted Fantasies: The Making and Un-Making of Subjects and Objects of the Gaze in Kawabata Yasunari's Thousand Cranes, The Lake, and House of the Sleeping Beauties

By:
Dr. Gloria R. Montebruno Saller
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The psychology of Kawabata's characters presents a vision of unstable souls. Kawabata's representations of objects of the gendered gaze are not always tangible nor present. Subjects of the gaze are often confused as to the meaning of their visual experiences. Vision becomes blurred, including not only what the physical but also what the mind's eyes see. All the characters in these three novels have stories to tell. In investigating the ways they gaze at each other, in analyzing the complexities of their scopic fields and drives, I intend to shed light over the progression in Kawabata's novels through which Kawabata portrays his female characters as they transition from the position of the gazed upon and emerge as subjects of the gaze. Even though the male gaze seems to drive the plots of these novels, women 'per se' are endowed with a much stronger power: the power to stimulate vision, the power to create sights, the power to stand in for male fantasies, desires and fears. It is through the ways the women look back at them that the male protagonists in Kawabata's novels struggle to become visible to themselves.

study of Kawabata's novels indicates that Kawabata and Jacques Lacan share the view that the subject that gazes does not control the one being gazed upon, and that through subjective perception the subject of the gaze has the ability to turn its objects of vision into gazing subjects. Moreover, my study also reveals how Kawabata's female characters are not the victims they appear to be. Thus, to employ the gaze as a category of literary analysis helps to challenge the critics' readings' of Kawabata's texts that have emphasized the victim-status of the women in Kawabata's writings


Keywords: Modern Japanese Literature, Literary Theory, Gender Studies
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Threatening Sights, Coveted Fantasies


Dr. Gloria R. Montebruno Saller

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Liberal Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, California State University, Fullerton
USA


Ref: H05P0012