Kannani and Document of Flames contains two novellas written in the mids by Yuasa Katsuei, a Japanese author, about the Japanese experience of. KANNANI AND DOCUMENT OF FLAMES: Two Japanese Colonial Novels, by Katsuei Yuasa, translated and with an introduction and critical. Download Citation on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , Ted Goossen and others published Kannani and Document of Flames: Two Japanese Colonial Novels.

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What could have been from what was seen | The Japan Times

Driscoll’s essays are the volume’s chief virtue to a casual reader. The novellas themselves, whatever the merits of the originals, read as if translated by an academic historian, and are better approached as historical documents than as works of literature. Ryuki and Kannani are star-crossed adolescent innocents.

He’s Japanese, she’s Korean, and the whole fallen world conspires against their thoroughly chaste love. Much of “Kannani” is written with a grinding, Highlights-magazine quality, a creepy, affected childishness that makes the story’s occasional violent incidents uglier, like annd “Love is The novella’s nadir arrives when a pack of teenagers surround two elementary-school kids in the street, beat them badly, and rape one with a tree branch.

What could have been from what was seen

It’s a horrible incident, and the stupid way in which it’s written serves to compound the horror. The author labeling the perpetrators “bratty bullies,” for example, is a descriptive inadequacy so grotesque as to render the word inadequacy itself inadequate. There is no question “Kannani” sucks and is unpleasant to read, but abd extremity of its shortcomings, especially its over-reliance on two or three adjectives, raises documejt question: Is Katsuei a writer of unusually stunted vocabulary, or was significant nuance lost in translation?


Let us mull this representative excerpt:. The novella begins in Japan, where beautiful Kakashama is married to a monster, a “traditional” Japanese man who humiliates and nearly murders her for failure to conceive a son.

Kakashama goes kannabi the cliffs to kill herself, but on the brink of suicide she sees ghostly islands rising from the mist far out in the ocean. It is a vision of Korea, an “undeveloped” and “up-and-coming” new world where she and her daughter can begin again, a frontier beyond the strictures of mainstream Japanese society and the pressures of her family.

We learn from the essays bracketing these novellas that Katsuei, their author, eventually embraced the Japanese government’s line on Korean occupation unreservedly, which isn’t shocking.

Even in “Document,” a progressive work for its era, the author’s conception of Korea fits the propaganda; Japan justified its occupation with the language of development, the myth that the Japanese “settled” Korea, bringing industry and progress to a barbarian land.

On the other hand, Katsuei’s fascination with Korea is genuine, and his outsider’s doument is a good fit for the experiences of his protagonists, a Off mother and daughter navigating economic, national and sexual turmoil in an unfamiliar land.

In spite of its similarities to “Kannani” including some duplicate metaphors, “Document” focuses on gender roles and the working world, whereas “Kannani” never gets beyond the exotic differences in Korean candy and the way children dress.

Kakashama and her daughter vacillate improbably between poverty and wealth, and their personalities and appearances likewise fluctuate to serve the author’s purposes, but the impressions the kannan receives of life in occupied Korea are interesting enough to outweigh the sloppy plotting. There’s even humor, as when a teacher charts, for her prized female pupil, the phases of male life: Both of these novellas are censored, “Document” most heavily, and mostly for political content.


A few passages are bowdlerized into kannnai, specifics and occurrences disappearing beneath a sandstorm of ellipses. The effect is titillating, engaging the reader’s imagination, and certainly the least of the text’s problems.

Kannani and Document of Flames | Duke University Press

Driscoll’s concluding essay is the book’s highlight, with the result that Kannani and Document of Flames is best regarded not as pair of novellas with supporting essays but as a commendable disquisition on postcolonialism, bolstered by the inclusion of newly translated source material. Translator Mark Driscoll’s introduction provides valuable context for the novellas, which were previously unavailable in English, and he concludes the book with a lengthy, wide-ranging essay that uses the novellas as the starting point for a lively, cogent examination of historical revisionism and Japan’s legacy of empire, drawing from such diverse sources as school textbooks, manga, and the remarks of Ben Affleck at the Tokyo premier of the film “Pearl Harbor.

Let us mull this representative excerpt: