The strange case of Araki Yasusada: Author, object

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Abstract

The essay reads the authorial hoax surrounding Araki Yasusada, said to be the author of poems relating experiences in post-Hiroshima Japan. The case - Yasusada's poems seem to have been written by a white American man - recalls (not for the first time) the difficulty the literary imagination has in dealing with biographical authorship. After examining the polemics the case generated around poetries of witness, the essay connects Yasusada's imagination to three other ideas: first, the collectively pathological memory associated with historical trauma (exemplified by Binjamin Wilkomirski's Fragments); second, subject-object relations in modern poetry (the essay closely reads two Yasusada poems in terms of their phenomenological concerns); and, third, a debate around the question of "woman's writing" carried on by Nancy K. Miller and Peggy Kamuf and inspired by another authorial hoax. The essay concludes by thinking about authors as historical objects - objects of readers' subjective perception of them. (ERJH)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-81+309
JournalPMLA
Volume120
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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