One major goal of my dissertation thesis is to present a better understanding of the work of Inoue Hisashi by explaining the role of its immanent intertextual references and dependencies. Special focus is placed on references to the so-called gesaku literature of the late Edo period.
Gesaku is characterised by its humour and the imaginative way it deals with language; on occasion it even demonstrates a certain resistance against the authorities. Until recently, gesaku has been considered trivial and even vulgar, and has been the topic of little scientific research. Its rediscovery by Western scholars began in the late 1970s. In Japan, the term emerged post-WW2 in the context of some contemporary authors like Sakaguchi Ango (坂口安吾, 1906–1955), Nagai Kafū (永井荷風, 1879–1959), Ishikawa Jun (石川淳, 1899–1987), Inoue Hisashi (井上ひさし, 1934–2010) or Tsutsui Yasutaka (筒井康隆, 1934), which were called “New gesaku Writers” (shin gesaku sha) by critics.
Among these authors, Inoue Hisashi is especially involved in gesaku literature and uses its elements in his own works. He began his literary career as a play writer for a strip theatre in Tokyo-Asakusa and later worked for the national television channel NHK, where he gained reputation as the script writer of a television puppet play series called “Hyokkori hyōtan jima” (ひょっこりひょうたん島, Popped-up Gourd Island, first aired 1964–1969). His literary breakthrough was through the novel “Tegusari shinjū” (手鎖心中, Handcuffed Double-Suicide, 1972), the first of his various works that deal with Edo and gesaku literature in one form or another.1 Edo literature topics in his prose and dramatic work, as well as his experiments with the Japanese language by applying popular stylistic devices2 of that era predestines Inoue for research of this kind. Furthermore, Inoue published several essays addressing his conception of gesaku literature and its authors.
Against this background, I plan to analyse some of Inoue’s works with regard to their intertextuality:
“Tegusari shinjū” 『手鎖心中』 (novella、1972)
“Gesaku-sha meimei den” 『戯作者銘々伝』 (short stories, 1979)
“Adauchi” 『仇討』 (drama, 1983)
“Kyoden-dana no tabako ire” 『京伝店の烟草入れ』 (novella, 1973)
- Other works include novels, short stories, drama, essays, speeches and several thematic talks. [↩]
- Word games (goroawase or dajare), lists of thematically connected ideas (monozukushi or fukiyose no jutsu) or references to canonical texts (koten no mojiri), the parody of clichéd phrases (tsukinami goku no tayō) and allusions to contemporary celebrities are some of these devices. [↩]