Victorian women's travel writing on Meiji Japan : hospitable friendship


    • Kumojima, Tomoe


Victorian women's travel writing on Meiji Japan : hospitable friendship

Tomoe Kumojima

(Oxford English monographs)

Oxford University Press, 2022

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [203]-220) and index



Victorian Women's Travel Writing on Meiji Japan: Hospitable Friendship examines forgotten stories of cross-cultural friendship and intimacy between Victorian female travel writers and Meiji Japanese. Drawing on unpublished primary sources and contemporary Japanese literature hithero untranslated into English it highlights the open subjectivity and addective relationality of Isabella Bird, Mary Crawford Fraser, and Marie Stopes in their interactions with Japanese hosts. Victorian Women's Travel Writing on Meiji Japan demonstates how travel narratives and literary works about non-colonial Japan complicate and challenge Oriental stereotypes and imperial binaries. It traces the shifts in the representation of Japan in Victorian discourse from obsequious mousme to virile samurai alongside transitions in the Anglo-Japanese bilateral relationship and global geopolitical events. Considering the ethical and political implications of how Victorian women wrote about their Japanese friends, it examines how female travellers created counter discourses. It charts the unexplored terrain of female interracial and cross-cultural friendship and love in Victorian literature, emphasizing the agency of female travellers against the scholarly tendency to depoliticize their literary praxis. It also offers parallel narratives of three Meiji women in Britain - Tsuda Umeko, Yasui Tetsu, and Yosano Akiko -and transnational feminist alliance. The book is a celebration of the political possibility of female friendship and literature, and a reminder of the ethical responsibility of representing racial and cultural others.


Introduction 1: Hospitable Friendship: Victorian Women Travellers and the Praxis of Ethical Relationality 2: A Traveller Who Laughs: Isabella Bird and Unbeaten Tracks in Japan 3: A Literary Diplomat: Mary Crawford Fraser and A Diplomatist's Wife in Japan 4: A Scientist in Love: Marie Stopes and A Journal from Japan

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