Censorship’s Distortion of Narrative and Marital Relationships in Japanese War Period Fiction

Main Article Content

Genevieve Scheele


The purpose of this paper is to challenge the notion that most Japanese writers only wrote nationalist fiction during the Pacific War with America. I analyzed two short stories published shortly after the start of the Pacific War, “December 8th” by Dazai Osamu and “A Wife’s Letters,” by Uno Chiyoi, with Gérard Genette’s theory of narratology and voice as a frame. I establish that censorship perverts the traditional relationship between narrator and narratee, intradiegetic or extradiegetic, within the story and without the story. In each story, a housewife takes the role of author, one of her diary and the other of letters to her husband. Both of these cases should be examples of natural thoughts, uncensored, particularly a diary. However, both stories have censors, within and without the story. The presence of the censor changes how the story is told, and even the diegetic relationships within the story. The necessity of being over patriotic to appease censors causes a lack of connection between the husband and wife of “December 8th,” in how they express their emotions. And in “A Wife’s Letters,” the war and censorship cause physical and emotional separation between husband and wife. In conclusion, these authors appease censors with nationalist prose, yet subvert censorship through author characters, thus revealing not only their true feelings about the war, but also on the effects of censorship on relationships and writing.

Article Details