Takeo Arishima, a Japanese writer in the early 20th century, has a style of writing that is distinct from the other writers of Japan at the time. Hiswork demands a deeper contemplation of the conflicts that take placein the borderlands of cultures.This aspect makes up for the apparent limitedness in the quality of Japanese novels in the early modern period characterized by a lack of interest in life outside the national territory. Dealingwith issues concerning migration and Japan’s imitation of the West, A Certain Woman underscores the conflicts at the point of contact between Japan and the West. As the novel focuses on “migration as conflict,” Arishima faces the “mirror,” reflecting the imagined “West.”By using the motif of migration, the novel exposes the Japanese “Western complex,” a blind imitation of the Westthat is mostly obscured in modern Japanese literature. The significance found in the novel is in its view of the West as a mirror reflecting Japan, and conversely using Japan as a mirror to imagine the West. For the heroine of the novel, the people of the United States are the standard by which to measure up oneself. Imagining herself in the way the Americans might look at her, she has internalized Orientalism, a captive of the mirror that is the United States. If the fashionable society of the United States of America is an imagined West, diaspora is the narrative of an individual who has to leave her home behind to settle there. The novel exquisitely links the imagination of “Westimitation-modernization,” a narrative of the nation-state, with the narrative of the individual, suggesting that the territory of the nation-state is fictional. In this context, A Certain Woman is a diasporic novel. By depicting an individual on the move to the West as a model to follow, the novel breaks the pattern of Japanese literature that tends to be content with representing life within Japan. The novel reveals a fictitious aspect of modern Japanese society that tries to efface the inferiority complex of Japan in its desire to imitate the West.


diasporic narrative, diasporic novel, imitation of the West, migration, narrative of nation-state, Orientalism, the Shirakaba-ha

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)