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Book Cover
Author Figal, Gerald A., 1962- author.

Title Civilization and monsters : spirits of modernity in Meiji Japan / Gerald Figal
Published Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2007


Description 1 online resource (xi, 290 pages) : illustrations
Series Asia-Pacific
Contents Bakumatsu Bakemono -- Words and changing things: grasping Fushigi in Meiji Japan -- Modern science and the folk -- Modern "science" of the folk -- Transforming the commonplace: Fushigi as critique -- Supernatural ideology
Summary "Monsters, ghosts, the supernatural, the fantastic, the mysterious. These are not usually considered the "stuff" of modernism. More often they are regarded as inconsequential to the study of the modern or, at best, seen as representative of traditional beliefs that are overcome and left behind in the transformation toward modernity. In Civilization and Monsters Gerald Figal asserts that discourse on the fantastic was at the heart of the historical configuration of Japanese modernity -- that the representation of the magical and mysterious played an integral part in the production of modernity beginning in Meiji Japan (1868-1912). After discussing the role of the fantastic in everyday Japan at the eve of the Meiji period, Figal draws new connections between folklorists, writers, educators, state ideologues, and policymakers, all of whom crossed paths in a contest over supernatural terrain. He shows the ways in which a determined Meiji state was engaged in a battle to suppress, denigrate, manipulate, or reincorporate folk belief as part of an effort toward the consolidation of a modern national culture. Modern medicine and education, functioning as a means for the state to exercise its power, redefined folk practices as a source of evil. Diverse local spirits were supplanted by a new Japanese Spirit, embodied by the newly constituted emperor, the supernatural source of the nation's strength. The monsters of folklore were identified, cataloged, and characterized according to a new regime of modern reason. But whether engaged to support state power and forge a national citizenry or to critique the arbitrary nature of that power, the fantastic, as Figal maintains, is the constant condition of Japanese modernity. Furthermore, he argues, modernity in general is born of fantasy in ways that have scarcely been recognized."-- Page 4 of cover
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 269-278) and index
Notes Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002. MiAaHDL
digitized 2010 HathiTrust Digital Library committed to preserve pda MiAaHDL
Print version record
Subject Japanese literature -- Meiji period, 1868-1912.
Folklore -- Japan.
SOCIAL SCIENCE -- Folklore & Mythology.
HISTORY -- Asia -- Japan.
Japanese literature -- Meiji period
Folclore -- Século 19 -- Japão.
Japan -- Civilization -- 1868-1912.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 9780822396338