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Study Questions for Hagiwara Sakutarō’s “The Town of Cats” (1935; Nekomachi- sanbunshifūna shōsetsu, translated by Jeffrey Angles)

Study Questions for Hagiwara Sakutarō’s “The Town of Cats” (1935; Nekomachi- sanbunshifūna shōsetsu, translated by Jeffrey Angles)

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Study Questions for Hagiwara Sakutarō’s “The Town of Cats” (1935; Nekomachi- sanbunshifūna shōsetsu, translated by Jeffrey Angles)
Study Questions for Hagiwara Sakutarō’s “The Town of Cats” (1935; Nekomachi- sanbunshifūna shōsetsu, translated by Jeffrey Angles)

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Published by: R Shaldjian Morrison on Dec 12, 2012
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05/14/2014

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Study Questions for
Hagiwara Sakutarō’s
 
“The Town of Cats” (1935
;Nekomachi-
sanbunshifūna shōsetsu, translated by Jeffrey Angles)
 
Terms/Related Concepts/TopicsLook up the following terms/related concepts/topics, and consider their relation to thetext. (Note: I have already started to fill in some of these.)1. Drug use, availability, and distribution in modern Japan:2. Parallax: the apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in theposition of the observer.3. Metaphysics: Traditional branch of philosophy concerned with explaining thefundamental nature of being and the world. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts toanswer two basic questions: What is there? What is it like?4. Dislocation (and the aesthetics of):5. Defamiliarization (Rs: ostranenie; Jp:
異化
) : The distinctive effect achieved by literary works in disrupting our habitual perception of the world, enabling us to 'see'things afresh, according to the theories of some English Romantic poets and of Russianformalism (Baldick, 1990).6. Wanderlust: a strong impulse to travel.7
. Plato’s Theory of Forms: The idea that behind the flux of phenomenal appearances
lies an immutable realm of non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas) thatpossess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. The Form (or Idea) is anaspacial, atemporal, objective blueprint of perfection, as contrasted with
idol 
 
(image/appearance), which is merely the Form’s partic
ular aspect, which existsmaterially and temporally. According to this theory, each concrete particular is animitation of its abstract and eternal Form.8
. Zhuangzi’s
莊子
butterfly:
Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn'tknow he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakableZhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, ora butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be
some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.” (
 Zhuangzi 
, Ch 2, tr.Burton Watson 1968:49). Original:
昔者莊周夢為蝴蝶,栩栩然蝴蝶也,自
適志與,不知周也。俄然覺,則蘧蘧然周也。不知周之夢為蝴蝶與,蝴蝶之夢為周與?周與蝴蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。
 
 
9. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860): German philosopher best known for his book,
The World as Will and Representation
.10. The fourth dimension:11.
The Fantastic
 
(Todorov’s concept): According t
o Bulgarian theorist TzvetanTodorov (1939- ), the fantastic is characterized by: a) a hesitation on the part of thereader in deciding whether to interpret the events of the story as real or unreal, naturalor supernatural; and/or b) a similar hesitation evident in the characters or narrator(s).
To qualify as “fantastic,” the reader must be able to resist reading the story as a simple
allegory or extended metaphor; in short, he must read it literally 
and 
metaphorically.
“Fantastic” works are often divided
into two types:
strange
(in which rationalexplanation is predominant) and
marvelous
(in which supernatural explanation ispredominant).12. Spirit Possession in Japanese Folklore:13. Utopia/Dystopia:14. Metamorphosis:15. Prose Poem (
sanbunshi 
):Study Questions Answer six of the following. I expect at least one full paragraph for each answer.1. Consider the three references that appear in the work (the Schopenhauer quote, theHorace reference, and the Zhuangzi reference). Explain each reference in relation to theoverall theme(s) of the work.2. The narrator provides several interpretive frameworks for explaining the strangehappenings described in the work. List and describe each of these interpretiveframeworks. Which framework does the narrator seem to prefer? Which framework isthe reader most likely to use?
3. As we discussed in class, “hesitation”—
either in a character or in the reader
is thehallma
rk of “the fantastic.” Explain instances of “hesitation” that occur in/are p
roduced by this work.

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