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Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled HairBody, Woman, and Desire in Medieval Japanese Narratives$
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Rajyashree Pandey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824853549

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.001.0001

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The Erotics of the Body in the Tale of Genji

The Erotics of the Body in the Tale of Genji

(p.31) Chapter Two The Erotics of the Body in the Tale of Genji
Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair

Rajyashree Pandey

University of Hawai'i Press

The body seems curiously absent in the Tale of Genji, despite the fact that this is a romance narrative about amorous entanglement and erotic desire. It is only when the body is conceived of as an enfleshed entity, constituted through flesh and blood that it registers as an absence. The chapter argues that in the Genji the body is best apprehended through its metonymic connections with robes and hair. Robes are the repositories of both the material and psychic attributes of an individual, and closely tied to the generation of erotic desire. Likewise, women’s thoughts and feelings find expression through their hair. There are close connections between the spirit (tama) and robes and hair, which function as keepsakes (katami) of the person to whom they belong. Beauty in the Genji is not located in the physical features of the body but in the comportment of the body in performance.

Keywords:   erotics, Tale of Genji, robes, hair, tama, katami, performance, beauty, nakedness, nudity

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