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Rest & Recreation In The City: Dystopian Visions Of Us Power In Cold War East Asia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores literary responses in Japan and Taiwan to the geopolitical hegemony exercised by the US in East Asia throughout the time-frame under analysis. Diverse writers from both Japan and Taiwan locate their critiques of the US order within a metaphoric pattern that pivots on the two rhetorical figures of the city and sexuality. The chapter focuses on four core texts: “Leap Before You Look” by Ôe KenzaburÔ; “American Hijiki” by Nosaka Akiyuki; Young Widows by Huang Chunming; and Rose, Rose, I Love You by Wang Zhenhe. Women’s bodies are contested terrain in male narratives of US power. Instead of national allegories rooted in the contemporary moment of Japan’s domination by the US, female authors use notions of subjugation to comment on the timeless, boundless nature of patriarchy, and to suggest that a surfeit of American power means nothing other than that there are additional masters to serve.

Keywords: American power; East Asia; geopolitical hegemony; Japan; male narratives; sexuality; Taiwan



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