Translator: Britten Dean
The Wasteland explores the psychology of the modern Japanese woman and her urge to realize an inner self of latent sexuality, long suppressed in Japan’s male-dominated society. Nobe Michiko, the novel’s narcissistic protagonist, leaves ruined lives in her wake as she pursues her lustful goals.
The author, Takahashi Takako (1932 - 2013) earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French literature at prestigious Kyoto University, a remarkable achievement for a woman in the 1950s. There, she was influenced by the decadent poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and the writings of novelist and Catholic apologist François Mauriac (1885-1970).
Christianity and depravity characterize both The Wasteland and many of Takahashi’s other works. The novel was first published in 1980 at a time of explosive Japanese economic growth which, in Takahashi’s view, had created in Tokyo a wasteland of immorality and inhumanity. Yet it is a Christian novel, for the author was a devout Roman Catholic (indeed a one-time nun), and the title page epigraph from the Old Testament book of “Hosea” unmistakably mantles the narrative in a religious message—God is here to help if the wayward would but listen. But, do they listen?
- Cornell East Asia Series
Publication Year: 2019
Publication Number: 200