Beyond "Orientalism": The Limitations and Possibilities in British and French Literary Representation
In December 1994, Kenzaburo Oe, a Japanese writer, remarked in an interview following the reception of the Nobel Prize in Literature: "The last masterpiece composed by Beethoven who had excelled in great symphonies in the prime of his life, was a string quartet. I have been writing prose all these years since I was never good at poetry which I regard as the more mature, sophisticated form of literature. But from now on, I would like to write a kind of fantasy if not poetry, which appears simpler than a novel but deeper and more complicated in its essence, something that could lead us back to our own roots - just like Beethoven's string quartet." Oe's words seem to imply that the work of art is an aesthetic exploration of various modes, styles or forms of creation in which the artist's self-exploration is also represented. Accordingly, many European travel writers, for example, dissatisfied with the "Self", set out on journeys, plunging themselves into the "Other" of distant locales, only to realize how much they were the products of their own cultures. In this presentation, therefore, I would like to focus upon the notion of the "Self" and the "Other" seen in the views of British and French "orientalist" writers between 18th and 20th centuries, looking and contrasting their heterogeneity & contradictions, as well as the limitations, possibilities and hope for the future.
Keywords: Orientalism, British and French Literary Representation, 18th and 20th centuries
Dr. Miho Takashima
Associate Professor, Department of International Studies,