This study is situated against the broader theoretical premise: when modern Japanese literary criticism made an epochal turn towards theory in the 1980s, all that might fall under the designation of the “biographical”—material, method, or ethic—became the unmourned remains of the critical past, now inhibiting the critical future. My purpose is twofold: to delineate this critical impasse and to propose a theoretically viable allowance for the biographical. My inquiry draws on the particular nexus of biographical écriture and literary historical positioning illuminated by the author Uno Kōji (1891–1961). Uno's case demonstrates not only the humanistic folly and attendant violence that biographical discourse can commit but also the possibility of the writing (graphia) of life (bios). If there is any conceptual transaction between these two possibilities, it is to be found in mimesis, which operates not only in the (very real) fantasy of the “life and work” continuum but also in the sensual experience of the text as the Other's life-words, an important aspect of Uno's authorial actuality. It is the body that finally brings these disparate modalities of mimesis into a concerted text of life—the body that styles across the phenomenal boundary between text and life. In tracing the styling body, I argue, we may witness the singular continuity that is writing, affecting text and life as life-text and affording a different experience of biography's palpability—bio-graphy.
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Astrid Lac; Becoming Mad Bio-Graphically: The Styling Body in Modern Japanese Literature. Comparative Literature 1 December 2014; 66 (4): 459–480. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2823884
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