New Japanese Horizons
Published by: Cornell University Press
240 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
- ISBN: 9781939161109
- Published: May 2019
The Wasteland explores the psychology of the modern Japanese woman and her urge to realize an inner self of latent sexuality, long suppressed in Japan's male-dominated society. Nobe Michiko, the novel's narcissistic protagonist, leaves ruined lives in her wake as she pursues her lustful goals. The author, Takahashi Takako (1932–2013) earned bachelor's and master's degrees in French literature at prestigious Kyoto University, a remarkable achievement for a woman in the 1950s. There, she was influenced by the decadent poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) and the writings of novelist and Catholic apologist François Mauriac (1885–1970). Christianity and depravity characterize both The Wasteland and many of Takahashi's other works. The novel was first published in 1980 at a time of explosive Japanese economic growth, which, in Takahashi's view, had created in Tokyo a wasteland of immorality and inhumanity. Yet it is a Christian novel, for the author was a devout Roman Catholic (indeed a one-time nun), and the title page epigraph from the Old Testament book of Hosea unmistakably mantles the narrative in a religious message: God is here to help if the wayward would but listen. But, do they listen?