The Lonely Island of Queerness: Manifestations of Early Shōwa Homosexuality Discourse in Edogawa Ranpo’s Kotō no Oni


The focus of this paper will be put on the literary analysis of Edogawa Ranpo's mystery novel Kotō no Oni (1929-30), with respect to how the discourse of homosexuality of the day manifests itself in the novel. Edogawa has established a reputation as one of the most famous Japanese mystery writers, counting among the authors of the ero, guro, nansensu movement. The rise of sexology as a science opened to the public a previously tabooed topic of non-heteronormative sexualities; this discourse was soon adapted by ero, guro, nansensu popular culture. However, there were still censorial restrictions as to the way of portraying these sexualities, and works that seemed to be too sympathetic often ended up banned. That might be why Kotō no Oni's hero Minoura painstakingly follows all social conventions and firmly stands for heteronormative values, refusing everything non-mainstream, even his wife Kyushuan accent (the image of Kyushu as the backwaters of Japan, where such practices like nanshoku survived long after their Tokugawa heyday, might come to play here), and openly renouncing the "perverted desire" of homosexuality. On the other hand, we find many subtle or not so subtle clues in the narrative subverting this stance, such as the end of the story-the homosexual character Moroto's declaration of undying love for the hero-that most likely reflect the true opinion of the author, who in his essays gives himself away as one of the greatest proponent of homosexuality of his day.

Author Information
Veronika Abbasová, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2014
Stream: Asian Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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