Myths and Themes

Reading Classics in the East: The Myth of Western Literature in Dai Sijie, Murakami Haruki, and Azar Nafisi


Abstract


This study focuses on three recent literary works (fiction and non-fiction novels) written by authors of Asiatic origins: the French-speaking Chinese writer, Dai Sijie, the Iranian professor, Azar Nafisi, and the Japanese writer, Murakami Haruki. In the titles of these international bestsellers (Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Kafka on the Shore), we find an oxymoron: the name of a famous, canonical Western writer or character is used in an unusual context, linked to the geography of the near or far East. The consequent effect of estrangement can restore strength to literature, perhaps with greater determination than is possible in Western cultures. By using (and reversing) the coordinates of Edward Said’s idea of Orientalism and, as in Kafka on the Shore, certain concepts of the Lacanian theory, this study analyzes the transfer of the European literary myths towards Eastern cultures.

 


Keywords

Orientalism; European Literature; Responsibility; Novel; Non-fiction; Second World War; Dictatorship

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/288

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