One Novel, 442 Footnotes and Two Tokyos: Tanaka Yasuo's 'Nantonaku, Kurisutaru' and Pierre Macherey's Literary Theories
What is the implication in a narrative of the representation of certain features of a city being given prominence, in opposition to an under-representation of other features of the city? The Japanese novelist Tanaka Yasuo represented Tokyo in such a way in his novel from 1981, Nantonaku, kurisutaru (Somewhat, crystal). In this paper I will answer this question by looking at the voice of the narrator, Yuri, of Tanaka’s novel, and also the voice of the author, Tanaka who supplied 442 footnotes. I will also look at the work of the French literary theorist Pierre Macherey, who is concerned with the gap between what we can say of a literary work, and what the work itself is saying. In light of this, Tanaka’s novel gives us an extremely interesting situation for the reader to determine who is saying what about Tokyo.
In both the footnotes and the narrative of the novel, many references to Tokyo are made, yet there is a difference in the parts of Tokyo represented in the narrative. The places that feature in the narrative time are associated with good times and special occasions. These kinds of places are mentioned outside narrative time as well, but it is significant that the other places, the ordinary, the everyday places are exclusively outside narrative time. These differences are amplified in the footnotes in a sarcastic and parodic fashion.
The paper will demonstrate that Tanaka’s choice of proper nouns and how he uses them has far reaching implications, indicative of a certain time and place in recent Japanese history.
Keywords: Tanaka Yasuo, Nantonaku, Kurisutaru, Tokyo, Pierre Macherey
Casual Lecturer and Candidate for PhD, Japanese Studies