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Objects of Discourse
Memoirs by Women of Heian Japan
by John R. Wallace

Wallace analyzes the four main 10th- and 11th-century Heian memoirs by women for their individual characteristics and what they suggest of Heian literature more broadly. He treats the memoirists not as passive objects of men’s romantic play but rather as individuals who strategically confront their difficult life situations in part by writing about their experiences.

Wallace further finds in the memoirs a rich resource for understanding rhetorical and structural features of Japan’s high classical period literary prose. After taking up historical issues such as the newly developed vernacular scripts and pre-texts of the memoirs, Wallace probes Gossamer Years, Lady Izumi’s Story, Lady Murasaki’s Journal, and The Sarashina Memoir for their stylistic aspects, rhetorical devices, Foucault’s ‘networks of power’, and narrative structure, respectively. The result is a fascinating study of Heian women writers.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies No. 54 
Publ. 2005, 335 pp.
ISBN 1 929280 34 3,hardback, £42.00