Modern Women in China and Japan: Gender, Feminism and Global Modernity Between the Wars 9780755619702, 9781848859395

At the dawn of the 1930s a new empowered and liberated image of the female was taking root in popular culture in the Wes

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LIST OF ILLUSTR ATIONS

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

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The Slipper. Dwarf Pine Tree. Rain Blossoms, Japan. Moonlight on Fujiyama, 1928. Rainbow Phoenix Waterfall. Nikko Gate.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Lilian Miller’s pictures are reproduced here by kind courtesy of the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College. Material on Caroline Bache McMahon from the Alfred E. Knopf archive at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in New York, is used with permission. I would like to thank these institutions for their generosity. This book has evolved from my doctoral thesis, and I would like to thank my supervisor, Hans van de Ven. Tim Harper and Richard Drayton also gave advice at various stages of my research. Conversations with Dorothy Ko and Tani Barlow also shaped my thinking about women in Asian history. As both colleagues and friends, Alistair Fair, Nick Godfrey, Neil Khor, Su-Lyn Seah, Heléna Tóth, Brittany Wellner, Ashley Wright and Felicia Yap have helped me in different ways over the last seven years. To all of them, I am very grateful. Finally, thanks to Paul Dicken for his companionship, and my parents for their support.

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INTRODUCTION

The notion of the Modern Woman is a disputed concept. The extent to which she is culturally specific or a transnational phenomenon is something I explore in a comparative study of how she was projected and performed in East Asia between 1920 and 1940. In this book I use case studies of writers and artists to examine how the Modern Woman was created and defined by these women in China and Japan during this period. I use the term ‘creating’ because each of these subjects (re)created the image of the Modern Woman in her work and life. In this study, I examine six women who were resident in China and Japan in the interwar period and how they viewed the idea of the Modern Woman. How they lived, or performed the role of the Modern Woman, is a crucial element to this study. Each of these women can be said to have been conducting her own experiment in living the Modern Woman’s role, whatever she defined this role to be. The role of expatriation is key in all these cases. These were women performing a role significantly away from cultural reinforcement of their home culture. This is a key element to their subjectivity: that in the absence of other models, the role of the self becomes the defining, normative form. Through these examples, I demonstrate the value of examining an abstract concept such as the Modern Woman through specific personal examples. The women I use were writers and artists whose work reflects different responses to the enormous social changes taking place, particularly with regard to the status of women. As outsiders and insiders, they used their exposure to and experience with Asian society to critique western notions of womanhood. Each of these women looked at how they could define modernity for a woman, and I will discuss how they performed this role as well as how they depicted it in their work. The

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fact that these women are from different cultural backgrounds shows the internationalism of interwar feminist discourse, and thus the ways in which they described and prescribed progress for women in China and Japan are based on differing experiences. The women I discuss are the following:

Pearl Buck A well-known American novelist, she also wrote a series of non-fiction articles on the role of women in China and the USA. Her sympathy for the situation of Chinese women caught up in rapid change, and those left behind by changed standards for women (including literacy and unbound feet) is reflected in her work.

Stella Benson An English novelist and suffragette, Benson was a long-time resident in China along with her husband, who worked for the Customs service. The sources used here include her diaries as well as her novels. She wrote in detail about her daily life in China, including observations about the status of women. These comments, in counterpoint with her discussions of her internal life and her feelings about her situation, are useful illustrations of some of the paradoxes of defining the Modern Woman.

Sophia Chen Zen One of the first Chinese women to study at Vassar, she went on to become the first woman professor at Peking National University. Her articles about the path Chinese women should take offer a ‘third way’ of hybrid modernity, adopting some western ideas in society but resisting an imposed modernisation along western and patriarchal lines.

Caroline Bache McMahon An American intelligence officer stationed in Japan, she published a book detailing her experiences between the wars and contributed

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articles on Japan to American magazines. Her observations of daily life in Japan are perceptive, and I also illustrate some of her points with contemporary quotes sourced from the Japan Chronicle.

Lilian May Miller Also American, Miller was an artist who primarily worked in the Japanese woodblock style. She was born in Japan, the daughter of a diplomat, and spent much of her life there. She spoke Japanese and commented on feeling Japanese as well as American. In addition to her paintings and poetry, Miller’s unorthodox lifestyle (she was a lesbian) reflects a different model of modernity. Her cultural bilingualism (she often dressed in kimono, but also wore men’s clothing) is also intriguing. Prints of her work and her published poetry as well as secondary articles form the bulk of sources for her outlook on the Modern Woman.

Uno Chiyo A flamboyant Japanese fiction writer, she ‘performed’ the role of the Modern Woman by dressing in bold style and adopting a moga (Japanese: ‘modern girl’) public persona. Famous for her colourful love life as much as her fiction, she challenged boundaries in Japanese society. Social commentators began describing the dilemmas faced by the Modern Woman at the start of the twentieth century, particularly in terms that assumed higher education was the making of a Modern Woman: The Modern Woman finds herself educated to recognize a stress of social obligation which her family did not in the least anticipate when they sent her to college. She finds herself, in addition, under an impulse to act her part as a citizen of the world. She accepts her family inheritance with loyalty and affection, but she has entered into a wider inheritance as well, which, for lack of a better phrase, we call the social claim.1

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Thus, greater participation by the Modern Woman could exert a salutary effect on society in improving general morals. Jane Addams argued: The chastity of the Modern Woman of self-directed activity and of a varied circle of interests, which gives her an acquaintance with many men as well as women, has therefore a new value and importance in the establishment of social standards . . . As woman, however, fulfills her civic obligations while still guarding her chastity, she will be in position as never before to uphold the ‘single standard’, demanding that men shall add the personal virtues to their performance of public duties.2 This was later matched by the arguments from Japanese women for chastity on the part of men and an end to mistresses and concubinage. The modernity of women was continually linked to the progress of a nation, both from within and without. Thomas McMahon, writing on Japan in 1923, argued that Modern change in Japan is conspicuously evident in the altered condition and status of women. Formerly woman was hardly allowed the right of individuality, as a wife she was classed as little better than a menial, the coolie woman was little better than a slave, to be bought and sold, used and abused, as parents, or masters thought fit. The Japanese have now decreed a woman is entitled to individuality, and every freedom. There is throughout Japan a very effective movement for the uplift, and education of women. Many women are becoming notable for their efforts in bringing about reforms; there is a wide demand for the franchise.3 The period between World Wars I and II was a time of great optimism for international cooperation and understanding, with the founding of the League of Nations in hopes of avoiding any future conflicts on the scale of the 1914–1918 war. In Asia, the Institute of Pacific Relations was focused on ‘cultural relations between the Pacific peoples’, and

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such organisations reflected this move to internationalism.4 Obviously, World War II closed many of these avenues of communication, and it is for this reason I have focused on the interwar period as a discrete temporal block, rather than taking into account what happened to these women after 1940. In the sphere of women’s rights, the women’s organisations that had been founded before the Great War – often originally as suffrage groups – expanded their work towards international cooperation. In some cases this work had begun during the war, with women campaigning for peace. The idea that women could prevent war, and that female friendship internationally could be a force for world benefit was promoted by some of these groups, such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Of course, the facts on the ground varied, and some of these groups splintered over fundamental differences. Most relevant to this study is the fact that this window, c.1920– 1940, saw the flowering of Asia-Pacific based transnational women’s organisations.

Interwar Feminism This window of hope for communication was slammed shut with the arrival of World War II. The ways in which these women anticipated (and failed to anticipate) this major conflict demonstrates the sense that another great war was inconceivable to them. In practical terms, the 1920s also saw unprecedented opportunities for tourism and thus increased the access to – in Mary Louise Pratt’s phrase – ‘contact zones’.5 There is a philosophic difference between one who is explicitly part of a colonial enterprise and one who visits at the express invitation of, for instance, Nippon Tourism (I discuss participation in the commodification of Asian culture for tourist culture in the chapter on Lilian May Miller). The women included here were not ‘tourists’; as Stella Benson wrote in Worlds Within Worlds, ‘Tourists are not to be counted as human; like mermaids, they have no souls’. As well as physical travel there was greater connexion through publications reflecting an international sphere. The establishment at this time in the west of magazines such as Asia, designed explicitly to

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increase knowledge of Asia for western readers, demonstrated a recognition on the part of publishers of three things: 1. The general reader’s lack of knowledge of Asia, 2. A desire on the part of the reader to remedy this and 3. The existence of a group of ‘experts’ who could translate eastern culture for western readers. Some of these experts were women interested in international communication, and translations worked in both directions: at the same time western audiences were learning about Asia, the translation boom in China brought foreign books and magazines to Chinese readers. Once again, the idea of the public sphere is relevant as these women created and took advantage of connexions to one another and to the broader feminist discussions taking place around the world. The Modern Woman is important as a female icon during this period of the pursuit of suffrage and other rights. The Modern Woman presented a female as a citizen rather than a subject – or indeed object. The Modern Woman came to embody the idea of national modernity – and in some cases prosperity. She fulfilled both a political and an aesthetic role, and as such became part of debates on whether modern equalled western, and how the Modern Woman represented the modern state. Among the themes I discuss here are the notions of east-west exchange; the idea (continually contested) that modernity was a western concept; the status of women; and the idea of personal fame. Inseparable from the study of modernity is an examination of urban life, and the idea of the Modern Woman in the city, or the urban flâneuse, is also a recurring theme. In each location in which she emerged, the image of the Modern Woman as presented through visual and print media reflected and shaped national aspirations and filled a specific cultural role. As an image in the cultural landscape she defined expectations of womanhood. Such ideas have been discussed in the European context in terms of the production of the Modern Woman in visual culture. Whitney Chadwick and Tirza True Latimer have defined the Modern Woman in France as the interwar counterpart to the dandy/flâneur of the nineteenth-century urban centre.6 In assessing how the Modern Woman came to be created in Asia and what she represented, the syncretism of western feminism and the impression of western women’s lives (largely that transmitted by

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popular culture, often in translation) with Asian cultural practices created a different vision of the Modern Woman in each nation. However, feminism nonetheless claimed an overarching international affinity among women. The ‘transmission’ of feminism is perhaps too simplistic an analysis, as the goals of feminist groups in the west were often to elevate women in other areas from oppression – not to reach out to them as ‘sisters’ or equals (the relationship between Indian women and British feminism was more nuanced than this, and while this is not my area of study it is useful for comparison). This changed with the inauguration of the Pan Pacific Women’s Association (PPWA) in 1929, which brought together women from across Asia and the Pacific on the assumption of common experiences and, more crucially, common goals. Prior to this, international women’s groups were European-based and had held Asian women in client status, particularly in colonial environments. For instance, the International Women Suffrage Alliance and the International Council of Women figured British women as the saviours of the entire world of women, rather than seeing non-western women as feminist agents in their own right.7 This is not a study of the history of feminism per se or of women’s political action during this period. I am examining the idea of the Modern Woman – who in some instances was an anti-feminist model – and how this image was created as an ideal of national modernity. However, the broader phenomenon of the liberation of women in the early twentieth century and the development of the Modern Woman merits examination. After the carnage of World War I, some women felt that their role was to act counter to, or separately from the state. As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas The implication that women did not share the patriotism or aggressive nationalism of men (the view of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, among others) can further be seen as implying that

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women have a duty of solidarity with women elsewhere in the world simply because they are women. The factionalism of WILPF and others however demonstrated that it was sometimes easier to hold abstract solidarity with women elsewhere than with the woman sitting across the conference table.8 While I am not writing a history of such groups or their activities, it is worth reflecting on them as part of the cultural atmosphere in which the women I discuss were living. Their existence indicates that there was a regional public sphere. This can be paralleled with the idea of the colonial public sphere. The recent work of Alan Lester and Kirsten McKenzie (among others) has demonstrated the ways in which nineteenth-century colonial civil service postings meant that there was a network of acquaintance throughout the British Empire.9 This network – despite huge distances – meant that people in Calcutta, Cape Town or Sydney could be well informed (through newspapers being sent back and forth, as well as personal communications) of each other’s activities. The networks I discuss in this book are not ‘colonial’ as such but they feature the same syndrome of interconnexion across distances, and the idea of a public sphere across a region – in this case China and Japan – and across expatriate communities. As T. N. Harper has shown in relation to Singapore, ‘at the centre of any diasporic world is the flow of information: a description of the place of sojourn; news from a distant homeland; word from co-voyagers elsewhere’.10 This discourse connected disparate women in a metropolitan sphere as part of both an ‘imagined community’ of the metropolis, but a growing awareness of a second imagined community, that of women (as with Uno Chiyo reading Seito in her small town while she was growing up, and Stella Benson reading Japanese papers in rural China). The mobility and self-conscious cultural hybridity of these women meant that they were writing for readership outside their own immediate communities, and indeed own languages. The reach of Englishlanguage newspapers around Asia at this time contributed to this public sphere. Stella Benson, visiting Japan, dropped in on the editor of the Japan Chronicle in Kobe to compliment his publication. Such newspapers in Japan and China held various biases reflecting the nationality or politics of their publishers, as Peter O’Connor has

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discussed.11 In this sense the public sphere of communications in Asia (in the foreign language press) was an extension of politics and social ties of Europe and North America. The range of options for those reading English papers gave a surprisingly wide choice of viewpoints (and, as demonstrated by Stella Benson’s reading of an English-language Japanese paper in China, their distribution was wide). Nor can these papers be dismissed as simply expatriate community noticeboards. English-speaking locals read them, some of their stories were translated into local languages, and of course the English papers carried translations of stories from the local language press. English speakers were also curious about the news in Chinese and Japanese papers, and whether they were getting the whole picture in translated versions.12 These sources and outlets (Lilian Miller published in the Japan Advertiser) helped to engage these women in a regional discourse. Beyond this, all of these women published in magazines. This gave them a public voice in the popular press. In such a period of flourishing print culture it makes sense that these women used the popular press to explore their theories of the Modern Woman, and to include their readers in this discourse as a pervasive theme here is an assumption of some understanding and sympathy on the part of women readers. In addition to the activities of feminist groups, which I have discussed, these women were not operating in a historical vacuum. The political events of the 1920s and 1930s shaped their lives and in some cases directly impacted their work. In 1918, women over 30 were given the right to vote in Britain; Stella Benson as a suffragette had been part of the movement to bring this about. In 1919 the May Fourth Movement in China encouraged writers to experiment with new modes of expression. In 1920, women in the USA also became enfranchised. These limited examples show the varied ways in which women were crossing into modernity in the public spheres of different regions. We must regard Modern Women not as signifiers of modernity but as authors of it – as participants and creators of culture. Much is made of women’s appearance signalling modernity in various cultural contexts – the flapper, the vamp, the Japanese moga. However, these analyses focus on her as object rather than subject, and she is the focus

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of the male gaze registering the modernity rather than a participant. Rather than reducing woman to ornament or ‘sexual chattel’, fashion is one of the ways women have achieved artistic self-expression.13 The ‘New Woman’ can be seen as the opposite of the ‘decadent dandy’; this pair have been seen retrospectively by scholars as ‘antagonistic principles intent on each other’s destruction’, but to Victorian observers the New Woman was identified with the decadent, as a threat to established culture.14 It could be suggested that the New Woman came first and the Modern Girl was her commercialised variant. With women as the Other, or as creators of a ‘female’ modernity, the Modern Woman is a subjective concept. Janet Wolff has pointed out that writers on modernity (Baudelaire, Simmel, Benjamin et al.) equate ‘modern’ with ‘public’ and thus fail to describe women’s experience of modernity. As she points out, ‘the central figure of the flâneur in the literature of modernity can only be male’. Wolff, in common with other theorists of modernity, links it to the city. Despite varying dates and defining characteristics of modernity in different accounts, what ‘nearly all’ share is concern with the public world of work, politics, and city life.15 To the extent that women have been excluded from these spheres, they have been excluded from such analyses of modernity. Rita Felski’s work on the relationship between women and modernity has been particularly instructive. She points out that in much characterisation of modernity, women have been used as the site of the anti-modern, or of nostalgia. She argues against this, pointing to women’s role as consumers putting ‘femininity at the heart of the modern’, in a way that production and rationalisation did not. However, the idea of woman-as-consumer also included a perception of women as ‘buying machines’ driven by an impulse to shop beyond their control, and the idea of women as emotionally passive and subject to persuasion (such as that of advertising and the modern media).16

China In China, the development of feminine print culture was centred in Shanghai. The rise of urban culture therefore was crucial in the creation

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of the Modern Woman. Shanghai is critical as the centre of much of the feminist literature of the period, and has come to be defined as the ‘modern’ Chinese city of the early twentieth century. Whether this is valid, and whether a parallel can be drawn between the modern European metropolis and an Asian city is an ongoing debate. Shanghai had become the centre of China’s ‘modernity’, as a treaty port offering contact with foreign influences, and as a centre of printing and publishing offering the vehicles for promoting new ideas about society in general and women in particular. Leo Ou-Fan Lee has approached this idea of Asian modernity through the translation of the figure of the flâneur. The idea that the Shanghai of the early twentieth century was ‘modern’ in the European context is flawed. Was the ‘Paris of the Orient’ indeed that? If the flâneur represented French modernity, could such ‘modern’ figures apply in Shanghai? Shanghai of the 1890s or 1920s was perhaps equivalent to the Paris of the 1850s, in which Walter Benjamin wrote of the Arcades. Lee has gone further in suggesting that Shanghai was the ‘nostalgic modern’.17 The first paper by and for women was established in Shanghai in 1902 when the Journal of Women’s Studies was founded by Chen Xiefen.18 Her writing reflects the new nationalist feminism. She first urges Chinese women to act collectively, in order to achieve goals that an individual could not. ‘Do not consider yourselves mere women who must rely on men; there are two hundred million of us. If we can get our minds together, why should we fear that we can’t accomplish things?’19 In a 1904 essay, ‘Crisis in the Women’s World’, published in the China Daily, she uses emotive language to encourage women to rise up. The inhabitants of China number about four hundred million all together. Men and women each constitute half of this. Our nation is held in common, our territory is held in common, our assets are held in common, our rights are held in common – and our misfortunes too are held in common. Therefore, since we women have a common responsibility, can we simply stand on the sidelines and willingly destroy this nation, lose these assets,

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cast aside these responsibilities, and throw away these rights? Can we allow ourselves to become slaves of a fallen nation – can we willingly become an India or a Poland? This is something that causes me great sorrow, great pain. Unashamed of my mere bit of strength, I would fill in the vast ocean or weep blood to warn my fellow compatriots – and, especially, inform my fellow countrywomen.20 This impassioned plea to her fellow countrywomen places feminism at the service of nationalism, while also using national crisis as an opportunity for women to seize greater rights.21 Although the title is ‘Crisis in the Women’s World’ she clearly places the world at large in crisis, with women being potential agents to salvation. This is also intriguing as the ‘women’s world’ implies a domestic sphere, yet her claim of female ownership of society at large underlines the idea that women should be full citizens even if they are not exercising this entitlement. The idea of women proving their value to society in times of adversity, and thus their worthiness of full citizenship, is a parallel of the campaign for women’s suffrage in Europe and North America following World War I. Women are not just presented with a window of opportunity but a duty: ‘if we don’t forge ahead courageously, then it really is as men say disparagingly: “Women are slavish by nature”’.22 ‘True’ Chinese womanhood as seen in these stories is not the traditional romantic figure, nor is she the peasant: she is the modern metropolitan woman. The western element of modernity is assumed in Sophia Chen Zen’s claim that ‘the modern Chinese woman is not going to be merely a westernised person, but is to be a woman with the stamp of individuality that she has inherited from her predecessors, in addition to the opportunity that the modern world is offering for the broadening of her personality’.23 She continues: the task that is confronting the modern Chinese woman is threefold: first, she must keep a jealous guard on the precious inheritance which she had obtained from her predecessors; secondly, she is to both enrich and enlarge that inheritance so as to enable

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herself to meet the demands of a modernised world; and lastly, she is to make a wise selection as well as a judicious revaluation of the elements both in the old Chinese virtues and the new western ones, so that she may not fall victim to the chaotic state, chaotic morally, intellectually, and socially, because of the contact of the new with the old.24 The visual cues of the tension between western and Modern were most clearly expressed in women’s clothing. If men [in Asia] symbolically ‘join’ modernity by adopting western dress and women do not, women are being implicitly excluded from modernity.25 ‘Identity becomes a special kind of problem in “modernity”. Fashion reflects a tension between the crowd and the individual at every stage in the development of the nineteenth and twentieth century metropolis.’26 This elision of western/Modern is seen even in recent works, for instance Patricia Laurence’s caption of a photo of Ling Shuhua wearing a calf-length striped dress and leather Mary Jane shoes as ‘in modern dress’.27 Shanghai is often marked as the site of the ‘modern’ in early twentieth century China, and indeed the only modern city of the Republican period.28 Much of the historiography constructs the pre-war city as the ultimate exotic yet modern destination. A rediscovery of the city has also taken place in popular culture. It is the setting for recent fiction – most notably When We Were Orphans (2000) by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the Merchant Ivory film The White Countess (2006). Columbia University’s release of a revised edition of the Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai (2005, first published in 1894) is part of this momentum. Shanghai is critical as the centre of much of the feminist literature of the period, and has come to be defined as the ‘modern’ Chinese city of the early twentieth century.29 In complement to this, Leo Ou-Fan Lee’s Shanghai Modern looks at the society and the modernity of this city. By 1930, Shanghai was the ‘Paris of Asia’ and the fifth largest city in the world.30 It was not Shanghai’s population size that made it the focus of such attention. Paris, even now, is dwarfed by many cities but retains a mystique that other metropolitan cities cannot claim. Lee offers a detailed tour of Shanghai with its marvellous new department stores, the cafes of the French concession and the trams to take

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you there. Cosmopolitan Shanghai also bred ideologies (anarchism, socialism, anti-imperialism, nationalism, liberalism) that competed to ‘impart intelligibility and symbolism to the sprawling cityscape and beyond’.31 While Shanghai may have been the ‘Paris of the Orient’ for the ‘multinational colonialist establishment’, for radicalised Chinese youth it was the ‘Moscow of the Orient’.32 Gail Hershatter’s Dangerous Pleasures, a study of prostitution in Shanghai, adds to the city’s identity its role as a destination for sin, as well as delving into what life was actually like for the women involved. Shanghai as China’s ‘fallen woman’ who ‘slept with the West’ has become a standard image. Intellectuals of Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s ‘employed women in general and prostitutes in particular as metaphors for their own oppression in a warlord society and China’s sufferings in a hierarchical world order’.33 Shanghai was a free port, which attracted émigrés, fleeing first the Russian revolution and then the persecution of Nazi Germany. In this way, it was a ‘world city’, offering cosmopolitanism in the Far East, and it is the memory of this, lost with the arrival of Communism, that is reflected. Hershatter claims that the modernity sought by Shanghai’s revolutionaries and reformers was ‘a shifting and receding target’, which included economic and military strength but also required an ‘overhaul’ of cultural practices.34 Ongoing debates about prostitution and social policy were ‘inseparable from attempts to define a Chinese modernity that could irreversibly consign semicolonialism to the past’.35 Sarah Stevens has shown how competing visions of the modern state were projected onto the female figure, as the ‘New Woman’ or the ‘Modern Girl’.36 This particularly occurred in China due to the simultaneity of ‘national invention’ and the creation of a new ‘gender ideology’. For Stevens, the ‘woman question’ is a ‘keyhole through which to address issues of modernity and the nation’.37 Dorothy Ko has used her work on women in China from the seventeenth century onwards to discuss their role as participants in modernity, particularly focusing on the cultural importance of footbinding.38 Footbinding has long been seen as emblematic of the oppression of women, as well as a uniquely Chinese practice. For western observers, the bound foot was the definitive anti-modern – as well as an issue

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to rally support among western feminists. The standard explanation for the practice is that tiny feet were considered sexually appealing (the fact that Manchu women were forbidden to bind their feet and yet tried to replicate the impression of tiny feet by wearing platform shoes, the base of which was a tapered small foot, shows that the aesthetic appealed even to those who did not adopt the practice). Bound feet have also been seen as indicating a woman’s high status in society, implying that she had never had to work or walk great distances. Ko challenges this by viewing footbinding as containing elements of female autonomy.39 While John Francis Davis in 1836 drew a parallel between footbinding and the practice of long fingernails for men – both indicated an ‘exemption from labour’ 40 – Ko has challenged the ‘debilitating’ aspect of footbinding, and the idea that it was limited to women of the leisure class by pointing to the range of outdoor shoes that she has found were made for bound feet, including rain boots and shoes caked with mud from working in the fields.41 The issue of bound versus normal feet is a point of discussion by some of the women I include in this study. As well as their importance for individual freedom and mobility in a physical sense, bound or natural feet were part of the visual code of women’s modernity. Martha Huang has discussed the bodily representation of modernity and describes two types of women as fashion leaders: the ‘woman of style’ (socialite or prostitute) and the girl student.42 Whereas ‘women of style had traditional antecedents’, the girl student was a new phenomenon, with the opening of education to girls, giving them a role in public. Huang sees the girl student as the prototype for the New Woman of China, which was idealised by the May Fourth movement.43 The image of the modern girl in China has also been linked to Franco-Japanese sources. Shu-Mei Shih identifies the stories of Paul Morand in the early 1920s as the source of this image and its dissemination in China and Japan.44 The novels of Pierre Loti presented an orientalist, exoticised vision of Asian women, which was translated in the early 1900s into both Japanese and Chinese. While ‘Madame Chrysanthème’ may have influenced the ideas of fiction at the time, whether it created the ‘modern’ girl is debatable. I would argue that the idealised woman as sexual object, who is the passive recipient

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of a man’s attentions, is the opposite of the modern girl presented through – mostly female - writers. The women I have chosen to examine here would no doubt have been exposed to such literature. In the case of Pearl Buck, we find a woman who was actively writing against this model, in trying to present an image of the ‘real’ China. The two archetypes of modernity for women in this period were the xin nüxing [New Woman] and the modeng gou’er [Modern Girl]. Both stood in opposition to the good wife/good mother ideal. As Pearl Buck explained: As New Women, women stand for the nation and its quest for modernity – modernity understood as an admirable state of civilisation, strength, and progress. At the same time, as Modern Girls, women are used to represent fears for the modern nation and the drawbacks of modernity – modernity understood as a state of danger, individual alienation, and cultural loss.45 The educated, nationalistic New Woman versus the cosmopolitan, dissipated Modern Girl became the dichotomy. In China, the term Modern Girl (in English) was often used, which highlighted the international nature of the concept. This is in contrast to the Japanese moga, where the English term has been rendered Japanese. Just how different the New Woman and the Modern Girl looked from one another is more subtle. This potential confusion or blurring of the differences is picked up on by Pearl Buck in her assessment of the options for Chinese women in the 1930s.

Japan Kitazawa Shuichi coined the term moga, a Japanese version of the term ‘modern girl’ in the women’s magazine Josei, in 1924.46 Moga, short for modan garu (modern girl), is a Japanese adaptation of English words rather than a translation into Japanese using the terms for ‘new’ or ‘modern’ and ‘woman’. This further implied a western definition, that to be a Modern Woman was to be western. Another Japanese expression was also used, atarashii onna – ‘new woman’.

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Wakon yosai, meaning ‘Japanese mind with western knowledge’, also translated as ‘Japanese spirit with western culture’,47 was a slogan from the Meiji government promoting an ideology of synthesising modernisation and pure Japanese thought. In a phase of rapid industrialisation, many new ideas without context or connexion with Japanese indigenous culture were introduced in a short period.48 Western ideals such as individualism forced an inner reformation, as these concepts – which are essential to a European worldview – were completely alien to the Japanese.49 The upheavals of Meiji Japan had led to rapid adjustments of the social order, and tensions between modernisers and traditionalists. Hirai, writing in 1894, argued that western influence was responsible for keeping women down, claiming that prior to the Meiji era women had greater rights – including the right to reign as sovereign, command armed forces – although his examples for this are no more recent than the twelfth century. To those women in Japan who are trying to extend the suffrage, it may be as well to say at once, that so long as Japan remains in line with the Western civilisation, female suffrage has seemed to be hopeless, for the present at least.50 For many twentieth-century scholars examining an East Asian, Confucian society such as Japan, women’s oppression during industrialisation seemed an ‘obvious continuation of the practices of the previous era’, and this apparent ‘naturalness’ of women’s oppression has resulted in little attention being given to the policy of the Meiji state towards women.51 Following the pioneering work of Sharon Sievers, Vera Mackie and others have pursued the discussion of the role of the woman in modern Japan. While Mackie has looked more at the socio-political implications,52 Ulrike Wöhr and Barbara Hamill Sato (among others) have examined the creation of the Modern Woman in Japanese culture. Sato has explored the issue of the Modern Woman in interwar Japan, arguing that the media defined the Modern Woman as ‘multifaceted and ceaselessly changing’.53 This idea that the Modern Woman

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is defined by her inability to be defined connects to the idea of women’s paradoxical role in modernity (as emblems or antagonists of it) discussed by Rita Felski.54 Sato described three types of ‘urban women’ and defined the modern girl (moga) in visual terms with bobbed hair and short skirt, the housewife (shufu) who is ‘self-motivated’ and the professional working woman (shokugyo fujin).55 Whereas the modern girl is an ‘ephemeral concept’, the modern working woman is more complex and multifaceted. The moga being a visual concept, ‘it was difficult . . . to get a concrete picture of the moga’s psychological makeup and way of thinking’. For this reason, contemporary comments on the moga had an ‘abstract quality’.56 Ulrike Wöhr has suggested that, in the 1920s, the ‘good wife, wise mother’ was confronted by the ‘man-eating and westernised’ moga.57 Janet Hunter, discussing the Bluestocking Society (seitosha), which published the magazine Seito, has pointed out that its influence was out of proportion to its size, with the magazine only having a circulation of a ‘few thousand’. Successive issues of the magazine moved away from individual liberation to the problems faced by women in society as a whole.58 Edwin O. Reischauer, however, sees the arrival of Confucianism as having constrained previous female freedoms in early Japan, during the Heian period.59 The Heian period in Japan and Song dynasty in China can be paralleled for this reason: that they were both looked back on by feminists as a golden age for women, followed by generations of silence that was only just – in the early twentieth century – being broken. Female submissiveness became part of the national identity, and a significant element in the perception of Japan from abroad. However, this changed in a period of national introspection. As Harry Harootunian writes, in Japan ‘during the 1920s and early 1930s, the true other of modernity was not so much the worker but woman’.60 Under the title ‘Growth of Feminism in Japan’, the Japan Chronicle of 26 February 1920 reported on a meeting in Kobe, where, just as men were demanding ‘universal’ suffrage, women were trying to secure rights and privileges. The report stated that Japanese women are ‘fast awakening to the inequality of the present social system in

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Japan which affords far greater privileges and advantages to men than women and they are now demanding a reconstruction of society’. It went on to describe how Japanese culture particularly trapped women in a subservient role: ‘It is true that they have hitherto been famous, and in fact much advertised, for their charming obedience, which men demanded and still demand of them’. But finally (the article said approvingly), ‘enlightened’ women are demanding suffrage, equal educational opportunities and sexual continence on the part of their husbands. The Japan Chronicle had an international readership, and seemed to regard modernisation and westernisation as the same thing. ‘Women of to-day are no longer content with their present position in which they are required to render absolute and blind obedience and servitude to the stronger sex, nor do they believe in the right of men to keep supplementary wives’.61 Japan’s Confucian culture was in many ways superficially similar to the Chinese in social structure and expectations of women. However, different political pressures changed the outcome and creation of the Modern Woman. Most obviously, Japan’s Modern Woman developed largely during a period of domestic peace, unlike China’s. Sato has linked the development of the Modern Woman in Japan to a single event, the 1923 Tokyo earthquake. Edward Seidenstricker has also commented that the arrival of the ‘flapper’ came after the earthquake.62 During the Taisho Period (1912–1926), Tokyo was marked by a hedonistic culture, which Ian Buruma has compared to Weimar Berlin.63 Summed up as ero (erotic), guro (grotesque), and nansensu (nonsense), the Taisho period, although brief, saw tremendous social change. It was a stage of hope and optimism in popular culture, including women’s rights. However as the economic boom brought by World War I was ended by the Kanto Earthquake (which brought its own social problems), intellectuals began to turn to Marxism and other radical ideologies.64 Part of the continuing optimism came from a belief that the future would bring further changes, and Marxism and other beliefs were viewed by some as an improvement over the status quo. Western modernity in Tokyo focused around the Ginza.65 Ginza Street was built as a government project after the fire of 1872, which

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destroyed most of the houses in the area. In rebuilding the area, Governor Kimimasa Yuri decided to create a western-style street and hired a British engineer, T. J. Waters, to design it. It had Georgian brick houses on both sides of the street and Japan’s first gas lighting. By the turn of the century Ginza had become the most fashionable shopping street in the country with a number of stores dealing in western products based there.66 As one observer wrote in 1935: ‘the Ghinza [sic] (Piccadilly of Tokyo) with its indiscriminate melée of European buildings of many nationalities and no style, was distracting and vulgar, but down side turnings behind this horror, bordering bad roads and open drains, little Japanese wooden houses with verandahs banked with plants and dwarfed trees, were refined and peaceful. The European façade seemed in all ways a thin veneer’.67 Mitsukoshi, the first ‘department store’, began trading in 1904 (it had previously existed as the Mitsui Gofukuten drapery store). Stores such as Takashimaya and Shirokiya quickly followed.68 These stores functioned as public leisure destinations, particularly for women. As in western department stores, the change was from ‘active buying’ to ‘passive shopping’. In addition, most western home wares were introduced to Japan through department stores.69 Thus Japanese housewives were brought into an international sphere of female consumers. Harootunian has linked the targeting of women as ‘consumers’ to the ‘rationalisation’ of households: women as housekeepers were given authority over this rationalisation as they moved into the workplace and into the public sphere.70 Crucial to this movement were altered shopping practices: the abandonment of traditional obligatory purchase, and free entry for shoppers to browse at the new stores. Fixed prices (no haggling) and open displays also encouraged comparison shopping.71 Japanese stores began by targeting the upper echelons of society, with a high-status, high-price strategy. The nobility were major customers and Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya became purveyors to the Imperial Household. This has been contrasted with many western department stores, which began as low price retailers.72 However, the comparison is flawed. Mitsukoshi (which partly modelled itself on Harrods) commenced trade at a time when such high-end stores already existed in

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Europe, including those – such as Fortnum & Mason in London – which held Royal warrants as purveyors of various goods. The SearsRoebuck discount/mail order business example from the United States is quite a different model, one which Japanese stores largely did not emulate, and which market conditions in Japan perhaps could not have supported anyway. The idea of woman as consumer has been presented more recently as a constraint, with the image of housewives shopping for their families, and ‘going shopping’ providing underemployed women with something to do – the shopping centre as the modern religion, providing the opiate of consumer browsing for the masses. Here, shopping is a socially acceptable public activity for women, one offering a role in modern society, both through proximity to ‘modern’ and western goods, and the aspirational modernity of such purchases.

Performing Modernity Marshall Berman’s book All That is Solid Melts into Air has been hugely influential on scholarship of modernity in the last twenty years. He argued that ‘To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in the maelstrom, to make its rhythms one’s own, to move within its currents in search of the forms of reality, of beauty, of freedom, of justice, that its fervid and perilous flow allows’.73 Lesley Johnson has drawn on this to argue that the use of a female figure to represent the Other of modernity is typical in modernist writings.74 As Rita Felski also points out, ‘the modern individual is assumed to be an autonomous male free of familial and communal ties’.75 As Judith Butler has suggested, ‘The presumed universality and unity of the subject of feminism is effectively undermined by the constraints of the representational discourse in which it functions. Indeed, the premature insistence on a stable subject of feminism, understood as a seamless category of women, inevitably generates multiple refusals to accept the category’.76 In this book, I explore a particular group of women’s self-performance in a distinctive cultural context, the ways in which they projected gender identity in their creative works in conscious reference to Asian practices. This self-fashioning was performed

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with the means at their disposal. However, access to publishing gave these women a far-spread audience, an imagined – and real – community to which they both aspired to belong and wished to distinguish themselves from, by performance in front of this audience. The audience available to these women is in itself a technologically modern concept, only possible through wide literacy, and the development of the media in press and broadcast forms. The possibility of existing, and being known to others not known to oneself, is a distinctly modern experience. Such fame was historically only available to monarchs or religious leaders; their very role (whether hereditary or divine, or both) emphasised that they were not ordinary people. The modern nature of fame meant it could be available to those who were ordinary people. That this fame could be achieved through luck, or beauty or talent, made it simultaneously more and less accessible. To know that such fame could be achieved offered an opportunity, while the difficulties of achieving it offered a disappointment that could not previously exist. The idea of female personal celebrity depends on the possibility of women having a unique, personal identity separate from that of her husband or family. To be an independent person, a citizen, was at the heart of suffrage campaigns, which had just at this time come to fruition in the west. To go further than being an equal citizen, to become an object of admiration and familiarity as a famous woman, is an opportunity offered by modern society. The ways in which this differed from ‘traditional society’ was a discussion to which women such as the ones included here returned to repeatedly.

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PEAR L BUCK (1892–1973)

Pearl Buck was one of the best-known western observers of China in the twentieth century. Although remembered now for her novels, she also described Chinese culture and life in non-fiction essays and magazine articles for western readers. Of the women examined here she is perhaps the most ambivalent towards modernity and the idea of the Modern Woman, but is also highly prescriptive in her writings on women’s advancement, and the Modern Woman’s optimal place in society. In this regard, she was strongly critical of both China and the USA. She was born Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker in 1892 in West Virginia. Her parents were missionaries to China, who had returned to the USA on respite. Pearl would be their fifth child, although three had already died in China. It was fear of losing another that led to the decision for Pearl to be born in America. As she wrote of her own origins: At any rate, I had a happy beginning in a pleasant place, and at the age of three months, my mother’s health being restored, I was transported across the seas to live and grow up in China. Thereafter Asia was the real, the actual world, and my own country became the dreamworld, fantastically beautiful, inhabited by a people I supposed entirely good, a land from which all blessings flowed.1 The family returned to China while Pearl was a baby and she grew up steeped in Chinese culture – although obviously filtered through the lens of Christianisation. In 1910 she travelled to the USA to attend Randolph-Macon Women’s College, but returned to China after graduating in 1914.

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In 1917, she married another American living in China, John Lossing Buck, an agricultural economist. After her marriage, Pearl taught English literature at the University of Nanking, and Lossing, as he was known, also held a teaching post. From 1920 to 1933, Pearl and Lossing lived on the campus of the university. During this time she also had sojourns abroad, first to complete an MA at Cornell University, and later in Unzen, Japan, where the Bucks stayed for a year after the Nanking Incident in 1927.2 Also in this period, she mixed with Chinese intellectuals; the poet Xu Zhimo was a close friend, and some suspect the two were lovers.3 Her views towards social improvement came to the fore from the mid-1920s onwards, when she was a frequent contributor to American magazines, both non-fiction and short stories. She also demonstrated disillusionment with the missionary project in her writing. The level of sacrifice she endured while growing up, in common with other missionary families,enabled her to sympathise perhaps more than most with the culture of female submission and self-sacrifice in China, as well as sharing their resentment.4 Her early decision not to become a missionary wife herself is surely significant. Political tensions and the need to find medical care for their daughter Carol (born in 1920), who suffered from Phenylketonuria, finally forced the Bucks to leave China in 1934 and return to the USA. In 1935, Pearl divorced Lossing in order to marry Richard J. Walsh, president of the John Day Publishing Company, which had published all of her books. In 1938, she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pearl Buck never saw China again, much as she wanted to, being repeatedly refused a visa by the Communist government. Nonetheless, she remained a champion of Chinese culture and her view of China – as reflected in her writing – in fact became more rose-tinted the longer she had lived away. Following World War II, Buck became involved in humanitarian work, and established a foundation and adoption agency for children of mixed race. This chapter focuses on three themes in her work. The first is eastwest exchange, as she considered herself to be bi-cultural and in a unique position to critique both Chinese and western society, from

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within and without. I will also consider her life in the context of personal fame, as much of her career involved creating and maintaining a public persona. Finally, I will address her attitudes specifically to the status of women, which was a recurring theme in her fiction but which she also discussed most critically in her non-fiction writings.

East-West Exchange Pearl Buck felt uniquely placed to act as a cultural intermediary between China and the west. She wrote in 1933 that ‘fifty years ago’, interest in China was ‘sentimental or curious’. Over the previous twenty-five years, the view had changed, she believed, so that China was ‘no longer . . . a place merely of queer customs, pretty bric-a-brac and ubiquitous laundrymen’.5 Her use of the term ‘merely’ suggest that China was indeed a land of ‘queer customs’ and laundrymen, but that these were not all there was to know of the nation. Her comment about bric-a-brac reflects the fact that for most Americans their experience of China was through domestic material goods, with porcelain and ornaments being seen as artefacts of a mysterious land. Pearl Buck demonstrated through her writing her ambivalence towards modernity and the role of the Modern Woman. In particular, she was concerned with the effect of rapid modernisation on traditional Chinese society. As a bilingual and – as she felt – bicultural woman, she was able to critique the status of women both in China and America. However, through an analysis of her writing over time, a change in her attitudes towards China can be clearly discerned. The letters she wrote from China as a young woman to American friends and family included Orientalist observations and comments in which she compared Chinese life unfavourably to American culture. However, once she was back ‘home’ in the USA and experienced life there, she wrote about China ‘more positively through her childhood experiences’.6 She later described her situation thus: Thus I grew up in a double world, the small white clean Presbyterian American world of my parents and the big loving merry not-so-clean Chinese world, and there was no

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communication between them. When I was in the Chinese world I was Chinese, I spoke Chinese and behaved as a Chinese and ate as the Chinese did, and I shared their thoughts and feelings. When I was in the American world, I shut the door between.7 Her writing as an outsider on China has been criticised as ‘inauthentic’; however, more recent critics have recognised that this was part of its value. Precisely because she was writing in English, for a foreign audience, she explained details of life in China that a Chinese author would have considered redundant or perhaps not even consciously noticed as part of the landscape with which they were familiar. Although she returned to the USA to attend Randolph-Macon Women’s College, she still felt her identity to be Chinese.8 She referred to China as where she had spent most of her life.9 She also had the experience of being Othered by her classmates at college, to the extent that she made a deliberate effort to blend in. She initially wore Chinese clothes – made for her by her mother’s tailor in an unsuccessful attempt to replicate American fashions – and handmade leather shoes, which she had to stop wearing in order to fit in with local style.10 Of course, this physical assimilation to her surroundings was an option never available to her in China, where as a white woman she would always be visibly foreign. While she could look the part of an American girl in Georgia, she did not feel at home there. This perception of being both within and without shaped what she saw as her role in translating China for western audiences. This translation is what she felt she did literally: she identified Chinese as her first language and claimed that when writing in English she had to mentally translate first. How much of this was a public posture is open to debate, the child of two Anglophone parents having Chinese as a ‘mother tongue’ seems unlikely, although evidently she was bilingual from childhood. Whether or not this internal translation took place her narrative style has also been compared to the Bible, as a result of her religious upbringing,11 and this ‘Chinese’ element to her identity, which she clung to even after many years in the USA, can be seen as a major influence on her work. In this aspect of her life a comparison can be

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drawn with Lilian May Miller, discussed in a later chapter. Here was another American woman who, as a result of her upbringing in Asia (Miller was the daughter of a diplomat), felt her identity to be more Asian than western – although to the Chinese or Japanese she would always be foreign. Karen Leong has suggested that ‘during her formative years, Buck knew China as reality and the United States as reflected in the memories and conversations of others’.12 However, her views on China certainly underwent a transition, from March 1919 when she wrote, ‘Knowing these people as I do, it makes me thoroughly angry to have China considered as even a semi-civilised country. There is entirely too much idealism [sic] of China in the US, and the common idea of her is very far from the sordid truth’, to the more ‘balanced and mature’ approach to China and the sympathetic portrait of the country in her novels.13 It is possible to appreciate both sides of this however, when considering Pearl Buck’s experiences, such as witnessing a murder (this incident, of a girl being suffocated by well-intentioned but fatally superstitious ‘first aid’, is used in her story ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’) and finding that 9 out of 10 women she met had killed at least one girl child.14 Given her Christian upbringing, her first response of outrage is understandable. It would be impossible for someone from that culture not to be, at least initially, horrified by a society that tolerates child-killing, perhaps especially as a woman when it was girls who were being discarded. It was Buck’s writing, in particular her novel, The Good Earth (1931) – made into a Broadway play in 1933 and a successful film in 1937 – that offered the most resonant presentation of China in the first half of the twentieth century, especially in the United States but also across much of the English-speaking world. Her depiction of striving Chinese peasants offered parallels to the Protestant work ethic and values to which western audiences could relate. It has even been credited with increasing sympathy for the Chinese on the part of American readers in the lead up to World War II.15 Buck clearly felt that it was important, from a geopolitical perspective, for Americans to know more about China. As she wrote in 1933,

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‘for weal or woe, China will assuredly influence the progress of the world in the next century and perhaps even in the next half century’.16 This view of the future importance of China clearly drove much of her work towards common understanding and friendship between America and China. The Good Earth is a moderately long novel, with a convoluted plot (which was significantly abridged for the film and stage versions). This book has been extensively analysed elsewhere and as I intend to focus more on Buck’s lesser-known writings I shall only address it briefly here. It is relevant to her role as an intermediary between east and west, as she was presenting a view of Chinese life for western readers, with a claim to authenticity of knowledge of that culture. It begins with the farmer Wang Lung’s wedding day. This was the last morning he would have to light the fire. He had lit it every morning since his mother died six years before. He had lit the fire, boiled water, and poured the water into a bowl and taken it into the room where his father sat upon his bed, coughing and fumbling for his shoes upon the floor. Every morning for these six years the old man had waited for his son to bring in hot water to ease him of his morning coughing. Now father and son could rest. There was a woman coming to the house. Never again would Wang Lung have to rise summer and winter at dawn to light the fire. He could lie in his bed and wait, and he also would have a bowl of water brought to him, and if the earth were fruitful there would be tea-leaves in the water.17 Here we can see two main themes of the book: a woman’s role in the home, and dependence on the ‘fruitfulness’ of the earth (or otherwise), which dictated the farmers’ precarious existence. Wang Lung’s wife comes from the House of Hwang, where she has been a ‘slave girl’ since childhood. There were those who said, ‘It is better to live alone than to marry a woman who has been a slave in a great house’. But when he had said to his father, ‘Am I never to have a woman?’ his

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father replied, ‘With weddings costing as they do in these evil days and every woman wanting gold rings and silk clothes before she will take a man, there remain only slaves to be had for the poor.’ His father had stirred himself then, and gone to the House of Hwang and asked if there were a slave to spare.18 To Wang Lung’s disappointment, she was not pretty, as his father held that a pretty woman ‘will be for ever thinking about clothes to go with her face’. He had another reason for seeking a plain girl for his son, as he argued: Who has heard of a pretty slave who was a virgin in a wealthy house? All the young lords will have had their fill of her. It is better to be the first with an ugly woman than the hundredth with a beauty.19 When Wang Lung arrives to collect his wife, whom he has not yet met, he is presented before the Old Mistress of the house, smoking a golden opium pipe. When he first sees O-Lan, he appraises her appearance: ‘the woman’s hair was neat and smooth and her coat clean. He saw with an instant’s disappointment that her feet were not bound’.20 This hints at the expected standards of beauty for women at all social levels; Wang Lung is disappointed to have a bride with unbound feet, even though he is a farmer who will be expecting his wife to work. According to the Old Mistress, O-Lan ‘will work well for you in the field’ and ‘she is a good slave, although somewhat slow and stupid, and had I not wished to acquire merit at the temple for my future existence by bringing more life into the world, I should have kept her, for she is good enough for the kitchen’. She advises O-Lan, ‘Obey him and bear him sons’.21 O-Lan is described as having ‘a brown, common, patient face’ with ‘no beauty’.22 Buck depicts Chinese society as a culture in which women are bought and sold, but also where people have great concern for the afterlife. This also demonstrates the perceived benefit of reproduction and growth of the nation, that it is seen as such a good deed to arrange a marriage that will result in offspring. This focus on growth, both

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from the soil, and within a family, is repeated throughout the book. It also serves to subordinate women in the household and in the service of the nation as mothers of the next generation. O-Lan proves to be hardworking, thrifty and loyal. She produces sons and cares for the family. Wang Lung is satisfied with her, but does not show her great affection; he assumes her role to be her duty to him. Years later, when good fortune has brought him wealth, Wang Lung meets a young woman named Lotus, at the tea-house (brothel). Immediately smitten by the girl, he cuts off his pigtail to impress her. O-Lan responds with shock: ‘you have cut off your life!’ He replies: ‘And shall I look like an old-fashioned fool for ever? All the young men of the city have their hair cut short’.23 The voice of tradition (O-Lan) is dismissed by the hasty decision to modernise. As Wang Lung symbolically discards the past with his queue, he discards his traditional wife, O-Lan (although he does not divorce her). Lotus becomes his concubine, treated with the affection and generosity he does not show O-Lan, to the extent that he takes back the pearls he had given O-Lan – the only such gesture of kindness he had shown towards her – so he can present them to Lotus. After O-Lan dies, he takes up with the young maid Pear Blossom, who offers him redemption, by offering a path back to a humble, traditional life. Pear Blossom tells him: ‘I like old men – they are so kind’.24 Historian Michael Hunt has argued that The Good Earth shaped American views of China more than any other contemporary work.25 For this Peal Buck was described as ‘one of the outstanding figures of our time in promoting understanding between peoples of differing cultures . . . [her books] have brought China close to the Englishspeaking peoples.’26 Buck wanted to present a corrective to western stereotypes of the Chinese, but in so doing helped to create an essentialised image of the peasant. This image she maintained against criticism from Chinese intellectuals, whom she saw as out of touch with their own fellow countrymen.27 Such criticisms were elaborated by Kiang Kang-Hu [Jiang Kanghu], Professor of Chinese studies at McGill University, who wrote a long piece in the New York Times in 1933, titled ‘A Chinese Scholar’s View of Mrs Buck’s Novels’. In his view, Buck was more like ‘a caricature cartoonist than a portrait

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painter’ in her depictions of China. ‘Very often I felt uneasy at her minute descriptions of certain peculiarities and defects of some lowly bred Chinese characters. They are, though not entirely unreal, very uncommon, indeed, in the Chinese life I know’. Suggesting that Buck’s sources for her information on Chinese life in The Good Earth were ‘coolies and amahs, who are usually from the poorest families’, he writes that, ‘they may form the majority of the Chinese population, but they are certainly not representative of the Chinese people’. Buck’s depictions – in his view – would lead to readers outside China forming a negative opinion of the country. He also details errors in her depiction of specific Chinese customs, the celebration of New Year, funeral rites and birth announcements. He argues that despite her long residence in China, as long as Buck cannot read or write Chinese and depends on peasants as translators, ‘there is little hope left . . . [for] her to really understand and truly interpret China’.28 The New York Times gave Buck the right of reply to these charges, and printed her letter to the editor in response in the same edition. She defended some of her differences of account from Professor Kiang with the explanation that customs in different regions of China varied, and that her writing was based on practices ‘in our region’.29 Defending the use of common people as her source of information, she argued ‘if the majority in any country does not represent the country, then who can?’ She went on to say that she had received the same criticisms from other Chinese intellectuals, and that the ‘cleavage between the common people and the intellectuals in China is portentous, a gulf that seems impassable. I have lived with the common people, and for the past fifteen years I have lived among the intellectuals, and I know whereof I speak’. She returned the attack on Chinese intellectuals as out of touch with their own countrymen: ‘They want the Chinese people represented by the little handful of her intellectuals, and they want the vast, rich, somber, joyous Chinese life represented solely by history that is long past, by paintings of the dead, by a literature that is ancient and classic.’ Buck felt that the peasants of The Good Earth were more genuinely ‘Chinese’ than cosmopolitan intellectuals. This idea of rural society as the only ‘authentic’ China served to inadvertently contribute to the creation of another stereotype – one

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which was the focus of Communist propaganda not only in China in which the peasant is the true ‘citizen’, and the educated city dweller is seen as betraying his inheritance by either exploiting or ignoring the peasant. This attitude also contributed to Buck’s being seen as highhanded or imperialist, for the implied idea in her writing that she knew more about China, and specifically what it meant to be Chinese, than Chinese people did. Meanwhile, her books were praised by American critics for presenting China ‘from within, as the Chinese see it’. As this admiring reviewer wrote: In the same way Mrs. Buck aims to present the Chinese customs as familiar, natural and correct, because so would her characters regard them. The customs at birth and death and marriage and new year, the earthen gods, the family ceremonial, the slavery of women, are all copiously illustrated, but always presented, as it were, unselfconsciously, as part of the natural process of living; never by the slightest word or turn of phrase does Mrs. Buck call our attention to the difference of these customs from our own.30 Pearl Buck’s novels were also written during a phase of American literature in which novels championing the working classes, particularly the agricultural working classes, found a ready audience in depressionera readers. The most obvious example of this is the work of Buck’s contemporary John Steinbeck. In fact, the similarities between The Good Earth and Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath have been pointed out in the scholarly literature: both deal with family life in the face of rural hardship and demonstrate the value of traditional virtues such as loyalty, hard work, and thrift.31 The image of the rural landscape has been a theme in American literature since its independence, and part of the national identity linked to the philosophy of rugged individualism and survival on the frontier. The special category that exists for ‘the farm’ in American culture is demonstrated even today in the question on all government forms – ‘is this residence a farm?’ Whatever the economic and tax issues, this question underlines the national view of farmers as a special group.

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During the depression of the 1930s, the image of the struggling farmer was presented through news photography and literature. The difficulties actually faced by those ‘living close to the land’ had grown with the dust bowls ravaging much of America’s farmland during that decade.32 Despite, or perhaps because of, this, the pioneer survival idea resonated as part of the identity of ‘true Americans’. It can be argued that this ‘familiarity’ with farming life – even through literature – helped the Good Earth find an enthusiastic audience in America’s reading public. This enthusiasm was also infused with nostalgia as America’s growing urbanisation between the wars meant that farming life increasingly carried a wholesome, innocent and authentic image against the (perceived) corruption of the city. Blake Allmendinger has suggested that she characterises Chinese cities as sites of ‘Oriental’ splendour and decadence. Pitting these lush urban centres against the austere Chinese countryside, Buck makes the rural setting of The Good Earth seem more ‘Occidental’ and thus, in spite of its harshness and barrenness, more benign by comparison.33 Making rural Chinese life the model of austerity and the protestant work ethic obviously appealed to American readers. By extension, the female characters, like O-Lan, who represented positive values, were the opposite of the opium-smoking, pampered city women. The truly virtuous woman was hardworking and humble, without aspirations above her station. In The Good Earth, this binary exists without the third option, that of educated womanhood. This point in itself relates to the idea of modernity, that the dislocation of modern urban life led audiences to fetishise farming as a rural idyll. Pearl Buck, in choosing to set her book in the countryside – even the countryside of another country – rather than in an urban environment reflects this. In this sense, the Good Earth can be seen as a reaction against urban modernity. In presenting a paean to timeless rural values, values that were in danger in the modern world, ‘Buck presents China to the rest of the world as an exotic alternative, as a quaint corner of the globe in which pre-industrial labourers still interact with

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their natural environment “authentically”, in a holistic, unmediated, mutually sustaining relationship’.34 Sophia Chen Zen reviewed The Good Earth for Pacific Affairs in 1931. In this she outlined ‘three types of attitudes’ to be found in foreign writing on China, ‘each reflecting a different stage in the evolution of the dominant foreign mentality towards the Chinese people and their culture’. The first is the attitude of denigration, seeing the Chinese as ‘savages’, and the second a ‘corrective’ to the first view, which fails by over-idealising the Chinese. But ‘the attitude that characterises the present tendency in the writings upon that ever-fresh subject, China . . . is the only sane and scientific attitude that may lead to a better understanding between nations’. In her analysis, Buck’s approach is, like Goldilocks’ porridge, just right. However, she sees an ‘aloofness’ from Chinese culture in Buck’s writing, asserting that ‘all her characters . . . are types, not individuals’.35 Later, while living in the USA, Buck tried to perform a difficult balancing act between condemning Chinese traditions as repressive of women, and praising the wisdom of Chinese culture. In her book Of Men and Women (1942), she compared the rights and disadvantages of American and Chinese women, and offered her views on the best way forward. Her analysis of Chinese culture sits oddly with an otherwise feminist perspective: When the ancient Chinese deliberately chose and developed to its highest point the traditional pattern of life which kept women within the walls of home they did all they could to help her. They bound the feet of women so that they could not hobble many yards from their own gates, but they bound their minds also with fetters of ignorance and decreed that women were not to be given the general learning that was given to men. Women as a rule were not allowed even the opportunity to read and write. The Chinese were wise and humane in this. Having decided definitely that the place of woman was in the home and that in the home she was to stay, they arranged to confine her mind there as well as her body so that she did not know for centuries that she was a prisoner. What exquisite horrible torture had they bound

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her feet alone and then liberated her mind! What agony to sit behind a wall beyond which she could not go and contemplate a world alive with activity and enjoyment and discovery forbidden to her!36 Even in Of Men and Women, she refers to China as her home and presents herself as a newcomer to America and American culture. She describes the time when ‘I came to my own country after living most of my life in China’.37 Having known of American women’s freedom to go out of the house, talk to men, etc., she ‘expected to find men and women really equal’.38 This posture is disingenuous, as she surely had access to some American books, newspapers or magazines, not to mention her own time spent there at college, and contact with relatives; for her to have been so ignorant of American society is hardly plausible. She was apparently disappointed to be unable to find a women’s bank (banks run by – and presumably for – women being part of the business landscape in Shanghai), and had unexpected difficulty finding a female doctor to attend her.39 Her views expressed in Of Men and Women prefigured in some ways those of Betty Friedan’s Feminist Mystique (1963), but they were not entirely original. It is in trying to balance a critique of American women’s lives and those of Chinese women that the book unravels. While her attacks on American society morph into attacks on women for not making more of their opportunities, and being constrained by domestic ideals, she turns to Chinese culture and praises the physical constraint of footbinding. This benign view of a harmonious life with lotus feet is particularly patronising coming from a woman with unbound feet and a graduate degree from Cornell. Nonetheless, her writing demonstrated her ambivalence towards the bounty that modernity was bringing to women in China, as well as suggesting that those in the west should not be complacent about female emancipation as they still had some way to go. Buck’s fondness for Chinese culture and traditions also grew in her writing as she saw them disappearing in rapid societal change. This was linked to the obvious tension between Modernisation and westernisation: by critiquing western (American) women’s status she

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suggests that Chinese women should look elsewhere for a guide, or indeed forge their own version of modernity, to retain Chinese identity in their modernisation. She suggests that women in China had equality with men: ‘I took woman’s equality with man for granted, until I came to live in my own country seven years ago’.40 Her image of a ‘separate but equal’ role for women in China is somewhat strange: more valuable than any actual knowledge was the quiet and conscious conviction Chinese women have always had of their own worth. Look at a Chinese woman anywhere in the world, and you will see a human being of personality and poise who apologises for nothing that she is or does, and in whose calm eyes shines her clear and tranquil soul. She knows her irreducible value as a woman. She does not worry about herself as compared to man. She accepts her difference, and knows herself equal to him.41 This incredibly broad generalisation clearly belongs in her later oeuvre – far from her earlier harsh views of Chinese infanticides and disregard for female life. Chinese women made out of home something that I have seen nowhere else. In China the home was not what it is in our country, a thing apart from men’s lives except when they return to it for food and sleep. The real life of the nation went on in the home. Even men were made an integral part of the home which Chinese women ruled.42 She goes on to argue that it was ‘no wonder then that the Chinese woman generally developed into a strong, wise, able human being, whether she could read or not’.43 In America, however Where I had expected in a free society to find women working everywhere as men worked, according to their ability, I found them actually less influential by far than women had been under the traditional scheme of life in China.44

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Despite this, and perhaps in deference to an American readership, she asserts: ‘I hold no brief for the old Chinese pattern of men and women. Ours is better, and even if it were not, it is ours and so better for us’.45 She clearly identifies herself to the reader as a fellow American: ours/us. Nonetheless, the image she paints of traditional Chinese life is idealised. Women lived in their homes quietly and happily ignorant and embroidered pretty little shoes for their crippled feet, little shoes they never took off even at night lest men see the real deformity they hid. They made of their feet ‘golden lilies’, and men fondled them as acts of love and wrote poems about them.46 It is interesting to note that the women she describes here as representative of the Chinese experience are the relatively affluent. The traditions she is praising here do not include the privations of peasants on the land, however much she had hailed their virtues in The Good Earth ten years earlier. According to Buck, the ancient Chinese made marriage obligatory by creating ancestor worship, which thus obligated men to marry and have sons, because ‘if a man had sons he did not die’.47 Marriage was necessary for a man to be sure the sons he was raising were his own, by keeping his wife in the house so that other men had no access to her. Chinese women, footbound and cloistered, had ‘grown very powerful’.48 And ‘When modern times came, it was women who did not want to give up their little feet. They had for so long wielded their power over men by those little feet’.49 I have even suspected that when the modern revolution came he was glad to insist on her becoming only equal with him at last. It was a forward step for him, and she lost by it. She had to stop being a wilful creature who made the most of her ignorance and who got all she wanted by pretending to be childish and irresponsible and weak and charming while actually she was strong, tough, executively able and mentally shrewd. It was man in China who hastened to write into the constitution that

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woman had to be equal with him and accept equal responsibility as an adult individual.50 Her argument demonstrates some ambivalence towards the notion of ‘equality’, in that rather than offering an avenue to freedom, having to support themselves on their own might be a curse for some women. She goes further and approaches the issue from both sides: first she reexamines the value of polygamy for providing all women with a home, and then praises monogamy and partnerships of equals. What shall be done with the inevitable surplus women if it is true that women belong in the home? So far monogamy has not been able to provide homes enough. When any American man begins the familiar growl of sending woman back to the home, where to his way of thinking she belongs, let him pause and consider where the home is to come from and who is to provide it. For to carry out that ancient scheme of every woman in a home, legalised polygamy will be a necessity. Monogamy can never provide a home for every woman. She argues that men ‘cannot enjoy the liberty to marry or not as they please which they now enjoy in western countries and still talk about a woman’s place being in the home’.51 However, she questions the purpose marriage would have if women had a fuller role in the workplace. Would marriage be worth having if it were between two human beings who were equals and who had responsibilities towards themselves and society, and if it were no longer economic escape for the woman? It would have some advantages for the man, at least. He could be sure that the woman loved him for himself and did not accept him for the sake of a home and security from breadwinning herself. He could feel that he had a partner and not a dependent.52 This is the crux of Buck’s dilemma – to explain or justify the subjection of women (in Chinese culture), while supporting women’s rights.

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Fame In the world of literature and in China, Pearl Buck’s star has risen and fallen but there has been a recent resurgence of scholarly interest in her work. The Good Earth won the Pulitzer in 1932, and Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1938. At the time of the award, it was regarded in literary circles as a ‘mistake’, and it does seem an odd choice in the literary field of the 1930s, with writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway overlooked (although Faulkner and Hemingway would both be awarded the prize after World War II). Jane Rabb has noted the relative lack of scholarship devoted to Buck, in comparison to Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton.53 There is sometimes a tendency for scholars and biographers, particularly feminists, to focus on women from the past who were seen as rebellious.54 But Buck, however radical some of her feminist views were, is seen through her most popular works as representing traditional values. John d’Entremont has suggested that in fact it was her public image in a traditional female role as a mother, and her well-known love of children that earned her sympathy, and enabled her to express radical or progressive views without opprobrium (unlike Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and other feminists, who were pilloried for it).55 However, this must be balanced against the fact that Gilman and others like her were feminist writers first and foremost, whereas Buck was – and was famous for being – a novelist, and her political non-fiction was much less widely read. Being highly educated and well-travelled (much as she tried to disguise this in the publicity for her early books), Buck’s own ‘modernity’ was ambivalent. It was in rebellion against her missionary background that she married John Lossing Buck, her requirements of a husband being that he was American, and not a missionary. (This gave her a fairly limited pool of potential spouses in China.) It was after an unhappy sixteen-year marriage that she divorced John Lossing Buck and married her publisher, Richard Walsh, on the same day. The birth of her daughter, Carol, was clearly a turning point in her life. In early childhood, Carol was found to be suffering from

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Phenylketonuria, then a little-understood disease (detailed in Buck’s book The Child Who Never Grew in 1951). The need to provide adequate medical care and education for her led Buck to return to the USA. However, at the peak of her fame in the 1930s and 1940s, Buck kept her personal situation out of the public eye. The east has long been conceived as a place for personal reinvention, and Buck was no exception to this. From the beginning of her career as a novelist she sought to adjust and control the image of herself seen by the reading public. Not for her was the autobiography or confessional novel. Although among her first major works were biographies of her parents, she did not write in detail of her own life until the 1950s. In the period under consideration here, she was carefully styling herself as a modest woman living in rural China who knew little or nothing of life in America.56

Status of Women The Good Earth offers several models for womanhood, but the most positively portrayed are O-Lan and Pear Blossom, who represent traditional values. The money-hungry Lotus and the wives of Wang Lung’s sons demonstrate different moral failings. However, this book is a work of fiction and it is not at all clear that Buck intended it as a prescriptive text on the role of women. Her writing that explicitly discusses the idea of the Modern Woman offered a more nuanced and problematic view. While The Good Earth could not be read as an explicitly ‘feminist’ novel, Buck used a depiction of marriage and the life faced by a woman at the bottom of the social ladder to demonstrate the virtues of hard work, thrift and stoicism, and to present these as ideal female virtues. It was in Buck’s non-fiction works that she expressed most strongly her concerns for the women of China. In The Good Earth she showed the social iniquities of landholding practices that kept farmers like Wang Lung in a state of feudal tenancy and poverty. She praised traditional peasant values against both wealth (rich characters are depicted negatively, and sudden fortune leading to vice is the message of Wang Lung’s success) and modernity. This also demonstrates the tension seen throughout Buck’s work between supporting the idea of the Modern Woman and traditional

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life. The theme recurs in her short stories, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’ and ‘The First Wife’. These stories however do not deal with peasants but with affluent women from merchant families – who were paradoxically in some ways more trapped by tradition (literally, with bound feet) and social expectation than peasant women. Buck’s published essays from this period also reflect the development of women’s emancipation in China. In the same October 1931 edition of Pacific Affairs that carried Sophia Chen Zen’s review of The Good Earth, Pearl Buck published ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’. This ‘conversation’ on Chinese culture can be seen as part of an ongoing exchange among female writers, both western and Chinese, on the path for Chinese women to take. It was something of a tug-of-war over who owned the Modern Woman. In this Buck claimed that, ‘The quality of character of Chinese women is certainly equal to the finest anywhere’. She also asserted that, ‘All of these aspects of women’s life in modern China are full of interest and importance, not only to Chinese women but to women in all countries’. This idea of universal feminism, or transnational sisterhood, is clearly a modern one. She attributed Chinese women’s strength of character to the lack of indulgence shown to girls in childhood – and contrasted this with the traditional treatment of boys. She claimed, ‘Foreigners of experience in Chinese life have often wondered why it has been that, generally speaking, the Chinese woman exhibits more integrity, more steadfastness, more endurance in the crises and affairs of life than does the Chinese man’. Buck saw Chinese women’s comparative disadvantages leading to greater strength in terms of diligence: ‘The girls value their education more highly and are willing to work harder than the boys do’.57 She further claimed that as girls are subjected to more trials throughout their lives – in contrast to the lenience shown to boys – the result was more stoic and hardworking women. Buck divided Chinese women into three groups, the uneducated (‘old-fashioned’), the partially educated and the college graduate. There are many highly educated women who do not marry, not because they do not wish to marry, but because they cannot. Many of them, indeed, I believe most of them, would prefer

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to marry. But the men whom they would marry, their proper mates, are already married, have been since youth, to the first group of women, the old-fashioned ones. The option of being a second wife was unthinkable: ‘For one thing seems perfectly clear to the modern, highly-educated Chinese woman: she will not be one of two or several wives. She will be her husband’s partner in a partnership of two’.58 This new ideal of companionate marriage was offered as an emblem of modernity. She presented these educated women as having the choice between life-long spinsterhood, or becoming home-wreckers who snatch men from their ‘old-fashioned’ wives. Occasionally, the Modern Woman and her married lover did not want to ‘put the burden of suffering’ upon the first wife. Divorced women were still stigmatised in China, because ‘in the old days a divorced wife was the wife who had misconducted herself, and her return home was in the nature of a public disgrace’.59 This theme she also addresses from the other side in her short story ‘The First Wife’, which focuses on the old-fashioned wife being sacrificed for a New Woman rival. Her suggestion was that the third group of women, the partially educated, are the ‘most fortunate’. At the same time they are not extremely articulate, do not demand much from their husbands, and in fact, as I am told by many young Chinese men, themselves, perhaps, not of the highest quality, make really better and more ‘comfortable’ wives than the highly educated women who know too much and too well how things ought to be.60 However, she still links the ideal situation for a woman to her suitability as a wife, in the eyes of men. She goes on to be still condemnatory towards the Modern Girl: This partially educated girl is very popular. She is the flapper. The pretty, conscienceless young thing who goes after the rich old business man when he makes a visit to Shanghai, and so

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entices him that he divorces his old wife. Or perhaps the young thing does not mind being a secondary wife – she is not modern very far beneath her skin – and she is satisfied with what she can get and is often pretty enough to get it. The highly educated woman can console herself without love by putting herself ‘into some piece of work, and surely no country in the world needs educated, unmarried, socially-minded women so much as China does today’.61 So the sacrifice of personal happiness for the greater good is the burden of the educated woman. She reserves her pity for the traditional wife who has ‘no such resources’ to fall back on, being suited only for marriage and life in the home. After a touching plea for the plight of these women after divorce (having been thrown over for a highly educated, or, one assumes, a partially educated rival), she wondered whether the old system of concubinage was not better, as the first wife retained her position. One pities above all creatures, perhaps, these old-fashioned wives in a modern country, who have nowhere to turn. And one admires most of all those heroic and large-minded men and women of education who will not seize their happiness at her expense, but realise that these old-fashioned women are no more to blame for the predicament than they themselves are – in fact, not any one is to blame, and so they will not make her the sole one to sacrifice everything. She says that by making such self-sacrifice, these women are ‘patriots indeed’.62 This simplistic assessment reduces a Chinese woman’s options to three: being an ignorant wife whose husband will be stolen by an overeducated bluestocking; being that overeducated woman who has to settle for being a spinster or the Other Woman; or being a patchily educated good-time girl. This last type of woman, the partially educated, traditional-underthe-skin girl, is advocated as the ideal Third Way for Chinese women. She can negotiate modern society and fit in with the modern urban

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environment while retaining the sensibilities of traditional China. ‘These have a smattering of modern education, look modern, have unbound feet, and will pass as educated and “new” women’.63 This is her view of the tension between the New Woman and the Modern Girl. With a view of the essential ‘Chinese’ character, she expresses optimism for the future: ‘Chinese women can sacrifice. And when to the splendid natural quality of character which they have is added the wisdom and understanding and resourcefulness of a sound higher education, it will be no loss to the nation, in the long run, that there has been a period of such a predicament as now exists’.64 In ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’, a two-part article written for Asia in 1926, Buck wrote in the voice of a Chinese woman. Whether this story is entirely fictional or based to some degree on a true figure is unclear. I tend to suspect the character is a generalisation created by Buck. It opens with, ‘These things I may tell, you My Sister’, putting the reader in the role of the listener, more specifically the role of a western woman, to whom the Chinese woman feels free to express herself. Described as having ‘lived among us all your years’, this is clearly Buck herself. This story formed the first part of her first novel, East Wind, West Wind. In the book, a counterpart extension to the story is added, involving the main character’s brother and his American wife. According to Xiongya Gao, the title ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’ ‘reveals Buck’s intention to let the reader know China through the eyes of a woman and the Chinese people through images of their female representatives, whom Buck always believed to possess the finest quality that can be possessed’.65 The Chinese woman of the title (in the book East Wind, West Wind she is called Kwei-Lan, but in the short story is unnamed) is married to a man to whom she was betrothed before birth. He has lived overseas and acquired a western education. His wife’s problem is that he no longer appreciates the form of traditional Chinese womanhood that his wife was raised to embody. ‘He does not find me fair! It is because he has crossed the four great seas to the other countries and has learned in those remote places to love new things and new ways’.66 She recounts an idyllic childhood in an affluent home, daughter of the ‘First Lady’ of the house – her father’s wife;

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he also had three concubines. Like the character in ‘The First Wife’, which I will discuss shortly, these are ‘aristocratic’ women who do not have to worry about basic survival.67 After her marriage she finds that her husband considers traditional Chinese religions all ‘superstition’ and forbids her to go to the temple.68 He tells her: ‘For myself, I wish to follow the new ways; I wish to regard you in all things as my equal. I shall never force you to do anything you dislike. You are not my possession – my chattel. You may be my friend, if you will’.69 His equal? This would have made him very progressive, even avant-garde in his views in the west, let alone China. At this time in England, a woman needed her husband’s permission even to open a bank account. By creating this figure, Buck is indulging in some wishful thinking, or exposing the idealism of those who believe the shift to equality would be so swift. Of course the wife is established as a contrast to the ideal Modern Woman. She is sympathetic, and represents the transitions – as Buck saw them – that Chinese women and Chinese culture would have to go through. Her change is ‘typical and representative of the process the whole nation was undergoing. It was forced, agonising, but for the better’.70 Paradoxically, however, Kwei-Lan is not herself driven to modernise. Her willingness to change is only to suit her husband’s ideas, and thus her pursuit of modernity paradoxically exemplifies the husband-pleasing goals of the traditional wife. The narrator offers vignettes of the backwardness of China, including this account of witnessing the treatment of a seriously ill girl: The girl was at the point of death, and the old doctor who was called in could do nothing, although he pierced her wrists and ankles with needles. A neighbour suggested the foreign hospital, but my mother did not consider such a thing a possibility. We knew nothing of foreigners. Besides, how could a foreigner know what was wrong with the Chinese?71 This view of the Chinese as backwards simpletons is quite insulting, but conformed to the belief that the Chinese needed to be improved by western education. Fortunately (in Buck’s eyes), this woman had an

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educated husband to inform her of how things are in the rest of the world, and to teach her about European cultures: This was very astonishing to me. I did not know that there were ancient people except ours. That is, civilised people. But it seems foreigners have also a history and a culture. They are therefore not wholly barbarian. My husband promised to read me some books about them.72 The wife therefore comes to represent Buck’s ideal midpoint (again, like Goldilocks’ porridge) for female modernity, raised in the old ways but learning a little about the world outside China and adopting some of the visual cues of the Modern Woman. Her short story, ‘The First Wife’, published the same year as The Good Earth, shows less optimism for middle class women than hardworking farmers like O-Lan. In ‘The First Wife’, a young man who has been studying abroad returns home after seven years, to his parents, his wife and two children.73 This can be seen as a companion-piece to ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’, depicting another traditional wife whose husband has been overseas and learned to disdain the culture of his upbringing, particularly with regard to the role of women. Unlike the husband in ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’, in ‘The First Wife’, the husband makes his journey after marriage, and having two children. So in this case rather than marrying a man with foreign attitudes, a woman experiences her husband being much changed when he returns from a long absence. The story begins with the family waiting for his return, and describes the women: ‘The mother’s feet and the grandmother’s feet were bound into tiny flowered satin shoes, but the little girl’s feet were left free, since the child’s father had written it must be so’.74 This use of footbinding as the symbol of the past also shows Buck’s sympathy for the traditional woman who is the victim of progress.75 The wife represents the generation of women for whom it is too late – although still young, her feet are bound and she cannot return to childhood – the childhood of unbound feet and the age at which she could most easily learn to read and write. She has become, in her own short lifetime,

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an anachronism, a representative of a China that progressive thinkers (like her husband) see as an embarrassment, which they wish to sweep from view as quickly as possible. This story focuses on one individual faced with this situation, offering a (fictional) personal view of the effects of the move to modernise China’s women, which was typically described in sweeping abstract claims rather than addressing the specifics of women who might not be able to move forward. Buck describes the daughter-in-law refilling tea cups for her parents-in-law, although there are also servants in attendance. Her fatherin-law tells her, My son will be pleased with you, my daughter, for such a son as this you have for him, and be sure we shall tell him everything of what you have been to us, the best and kindest daughter and the carefulest of mothers and everything a daughter-in-law should be in the house.76 When the husband, Yuan, finally arrives, he first greets his parents before turning to his wife. ‘He stood before her, and she did not raise her eyes. No, she knew what was proper; she had been very well taught, gently bred’.77 Here is a woman whose entire upbringing had trained her to perform the role of a good wife and daughter. Her advice to her own daughter is that ‘You learn submission by submitting first to your father and to your brother; then you will know how to submit to your husband. . . . A woman must learn to obey. We must not ask why. We cannot help our birth. We must accept it and do the duty that is ours in this lifetime.’78 Her whole existence and self-worth is based on doing this well, and her husband’s decision that she is unsatisfactory for being insufficiently modernised is incredibly callous. After his return, Yuan soon heads for the capital to take up a new job. He writes to his family, his father reading the letters to his illiterate mother and wife. In his letters he spoke . . . of great men he met and dined with, and also of great ladies. At first this mention of ladies had made the old gentleman somewhat stiff in his manner as he read the letters

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aloud to the old mother and to Yuan’s young wife. Indeed, he omitted the lines in which Yuan said, ‘Last night I dined with Madam Ching’. This the old gentleman did not read, because he supposed it must be some light woman, and it would not be respectful to the two ladies of the house to mention such a person to them.79 This is a poignant image of women dependent on men for information of the outside world, and subject to any filtering or omission that may be applied. Yuan writes again, and It was full of such phrases as these: ‘In this new day wives should stand beside husbands as equals’; ‘In this new day we men cannot be satisfied with the old standards of wives who are part servants, part mistresses’; ‘Not to have an educated wife is my great handicap. I have no one to keep such a home as I must have and to entertain for me, to be a companion to me. I am anxious even now because my children are not taught as they should be’.80 The father, having read his son’s letter, decides the solution is to send his daughter-in-law and grandchildren to the capital to live with Yuan. The First Wife, who is never given a name, serves as an anonymous cipher for all the women who could have found themselves in similar situations, trained only for a job that was becoming redundant. She is reluctant to leave her in-laws’ house, as she is concerned that this is a dereliction of her filial duty to them. Yuan writes and tells his father not to send his wife and children; his father, shocked by the letter (the contents of which he will not recount to his wife and daughter-in-law) decides to travel to the capital himself to see how his son is living.81 When he returns after forty days, he tells his wife and daughter-in-law of the wonders he saw in the capital, including ‘machines that run alone’. And he says I saw what Yuan meant when he spoke of the women of that city. It is true that they were to me the strangest things of all. They

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go everywhere alone; their hair is cut off like men’s hair; they are like men. At first I said, ‘These are evil women, and my son is lost among them.’ Then I saw that they were not evil. No, I have heard that women are changed in these days, and it is true. I had not believed it, since in this quiet place they are as they have always been.82 He discovered in the city that there were women who had attended the same kind of schools as his son, and had even travelled abroad. He met one, expecting her to be evil, but she spoke so gently and she was so courteous, and I saw her four children and they were courteous and clean also, and the house was in order although strange – but still ordered and clean – and I saw she was not evil at all. No, Yuan told me she could teach her children to read and to write and many things in books. I have not seen women like that before. Yet she sat there talking and laughing with the men, and they respected her.83 While the old man marvels at the Modern Woman in the city, Yuan explains why his wife is no longer satisfactory. ‘How could she manage a house like this, how be the sort of wife to me that I need? She cannot even read and write. I would be ashamed of her before my friends and their wives!’84 Yuan suggests the solution is for his wife to go to school for three years, so ‘she could learn to be more like the other women here. She will learn not only reading and writing but something of how to teach her children what they should know’.85 This idea of ‘what they should know’ denies and dismisses her skills as a mother and homemaker, and possession of traditionally female knowledge. The wife reluctantly agrees to go to school, but the narrator asks, ‘how can a mother of children go back and be a girl again?’86 The young woman struggles at the school and after two months decides that she cannot become educated, and that she will return to care for her children and her parents-in-law, as she has always done, as this is what she is good at. She will ask her father-in-law to write to Yuan for her, ‘I cannot be two women for you. If it be you must have

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the other kind also, then, although it breaks my heart in two, take one of that sort to be with you where you are; as for me, I will stay at home and care for your parents and take care of the children!’ Her explanation to her in-laws is that I am as I am, and I am only useful and clever when I am in this house with you whom I care for. Outside I am so stupid and awkward – you would not believe how stupid if you had not seen. Even the youngest ones in the school were more clever than I. It is true what Yuan says. I am fit only for this house and for you and for my children.87 Unfortunately, as far as Yuan is concerned, she is no longer even fit for that. Yuan tells his father that he would have been satisfied with the wife he was given at eighteen, had he stayed in the same house and in his father’s business. But having travelled abroad his expectations had changed. I need a companion in this life – from which I cannot now separate myself – one who shares it and with whom I can speak. I have nothing to say to the one you chose for me – she has nothing to say to me. We have no common life about which we can talk. I could never be content again with this one, seeing what women may become in these days. I can hire a servant to give me what that one does. I want a woman who is trained as I am, who is part, with me, of the new day.88 The first wife then represents the ‘old day’, the ways of China that Yuan can no longer abide. Yuan rejects his father’s suggestion of taking an additional wife, as he says this is ‘not lawful in these times nor becoming’. More importantly, ‘the new woman will not be a second wife. I must first divorce the old one; for the new one must be the only wife’. His father is horrified, recalling that at least in the past when a man took a new wife, the first wife ‘lost nothing but her husband’s favour and had all else left to

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her, and her life could go on in the house’.89 However, Yuan has found a new bride and initiated divorce proceedings. He tells his father, Do not blame me. Remember, I tried – I sent her to school, and it is not my fault if she would not make the effort to stay. If she had cared, she would have made the effort. I do not blame myself. There are many who do what I do today. Indeed the lot of the new women is as hard as that of any. The men whom they should wed, the men of their generation and training, are already wed, as I was, in childhood. Some one must suffer, and it is better for the country and for the children to come that the educated women be the wives and mothers. But I shall be generous to that other one. I will give her all you think she needs. Only she must go away to some other place and live there, because she has no more right in my home. When I come back with my wife to visit you and my mother, it will be an embarrassment to us if she is there.90 The first wife has already been alienated from her role in Yuan’s family, as he refers to her as ‘the other one’. Here Buck demonstrates the scenario she offered in her article ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’.91 The father-in-law decides to conceal from the wife the planned divorce, in the hope that he can convince his son to change his mind. Though she be not your wife, yet must she be our daughter. We are not changed to her. We do not know this new one . . . No, let our daughter live here with us and care for your children, and let her never know she is divorced from you. I will not tell her, and in this quiet place she need not know.92 Yuan returns home to tell his father that he must be divorced, quickly, because he is planning to remarry the following month. His wife overhears this, and for the first time she learns she is to be divorced. She tells Yuan ‘I have nowhere to go at all. There is no relative who will take me and the two children’.93 Her husband responds that his

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children are his responsibility, and they will live with him and ‘receive the benefits of my wife’s education’.94 He tells her that he gave her a chance, and she ‘threw it away’. The young wife then goes into her bedroom and hangs herself. This is the horrific parallel version of ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks’ – after ten years Buck had seen more of the potentially destructive effects of the arrival of such ideas of modernity for Chinese women. While the first wife attracts the reader’s sympathy, we are kept distant from her by the fact she has no name. She is the definitive victim, a figure who does not act but is acted upon, and can be seen as representing a whole class of Chinese women. Her one autonomous gesture is her final act of suicide. Pearl Buck used her articles to bring attention to Chinese culture and the problems posed by the rapid imposition of modernity. She also acknowledged the complexities of China that sometimes led to westerners dismissing the Chinese and their problems as insoluble or incomprehensible.95 ‘Small blame to us, either, for even those of us who elect to live in the country itself scarcely know from day to day what to believe this China is, in spite of seeing with our own eyes, so torn is she by the winds of the new times, yet so fraught through with the winds of the past.’96 She argued that it was in fiction rather than scholarly texts that the true nature of China and her people could be interpreted, and that ‘scholars in China in the past definitely repudiated fiction as a form of literature, designating it as “hsiao-shou”, or small talk, and only in modern times under the influence of returned students of western literature has it been given a place’.97 This belief that fiction led to better understanding of the culture made it only fitting that Buck should choose fiction as the vehicle to show her affection and sympathy for the Chinese people. She also felt she was in a position, as an educator, to observe the processes of and reactions to the arrival of western-influenced modernity in China. Certainly the old boundaries of duty and pleasure are more confused when young men insist as they do now-a-days that they wish to love first and then marry, and so sever marriage altogether

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from duty. ‘He even wants to love his wife!’ an indignant mother cried one day in my presence and in that of her rebellious son whom I had taught in grammar school.98 Buck’s own views seem to have been ambivalent. She could be seen as ‘anti-modern’ in her presentation of O-Lan with her pendulous breasts and her blood feeding the soil. This elegy to life on the land – and to American readers, it was an elegy – is the opposite of the world of the urban Modern Woman, and Buck demonstrated her resistance to the currents of modernity by choosing such themes. Whether O-Lan is or was intended to be a model exemplar is still debated. Kang Liao has stated: ‘We never had a realistic portrayal of strong and ordinary Chinese woman in literature until the appearance of O-Lan in The Good Earth, although we never lacked such women in life. O-Lan is also the first good and ugly Chinese woman character ever created in a novel’.99 But how many readers would have wished for O-Lan’s life? She is a martyr – a cautionary tale of the possible fate of women in a changing society. The tension in Buck’s work between promoting ideas of modernity and independence for women while admiring traditional life presents interesting paradoxes. The traditional life she championed was that of the hardworking farmer’s wife, not the merchant’s wife with bound feet. Although she sympathised with such women – as in ‘The First Wife’ – she likewise presented them as victims of history rather than heroines. The urban, educated woman is at turns demonised as a potential thief of husbands, but also seen as representing the future. Buck clearly recognised the value of a marriage of equals and a social order that allowed for female independence. Pearl Buck came to see more grey areas in social prescriptions and that modernity was not necessarily an unqualified boon for Chinese women. She was also disappointed by the comparative lack of progress for American women – unlike other writers who held women’s status in the west (especially in English-speaking countries) to be the gold standard to which societies elsewhere should be encouraged to aspire. By approaching it from a Chinese perspective, she could see the ways in which it failed to live up to its promise.

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Pearl Buck, a Modern Woman? Buck’s disillusionment with the project of the Modern Woman, particularly the way this idea was being interpreted and implemented in China, can be seen in much of her work. Her role as cultural intermediary was central to her self-perception and authorial pose, as she critiqued the progress of women in China and the USA. This led to her expressing views that were critical of both Chinese and western customs, and the treatment of women in both societies. To Chinese society, she suggested that ‘modernisation’ along western lines was not necessarily good for women, and to Americans she argued that women should not feel that they had achieved so much in comparison with their sisters overseas. During the interwar period, Buck was at a unique point in history to express these views. As she wrote, China is no longer remote. She is at last knocking at the doors of the Occident, entering eagerly into the colleges and universities, examining critically all that she sees, seizing ideas which she thinks will be useful to her, and returning again to her own land to use her new knowledge in her own fashion.100 This definition of cultural hybridity, embodied by Sophia Chen Zen, and other western-educated Chinese women, represented Pearl Buck’s vision for progress and cultural exchange in both America and China. The rural-urban dichotomy is a recurring theme in Buck’s work, intersecting the east-west theme. It also represents what she saw as the modern-traditional dichotomy for women, and all her work explores the tensions on these axes. As we have seen, a concern with rural life was prominent in American art and literature of the interwar period.101 In this sense, Pearl Buck’s anxieties were very much of her time and in keeping with other American writers, much as she tried to separate herself from an American identity by defining herself as Chinese. Her work towards social improvement, particularly the welfare of children, shows her desire to rectify social inequities, some of which

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she exposed in her writing. It was as a perpetual Other, a constant outsider, that she felt most acutely the position of women who had been raised for a world that no longer existed. Her disillusionment while seeking an ideal position for women in Chinese and American society demonstrates the difficulties of attempting to negotiate the two cultures, and the difficulties of defining success as a Modern Woman.

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STELL A BENSON (1892–1933)

A self-described feminist, Stella Benson went to China when she was already a moderately famous novelist. She did not make her career writing about Asia, although China features in some of her works. Her diaries are more useful as sources for her ideas than her novels, although her fiction offered a vehicle for her views. Her ambivalence towards modernity and role as observant flâneuse offer a demonstration of her performance as ‘Modern Woman’ in an environment she often saw as backwards, and which gave her the chance to compare the different social climes she had experienced. Benson was ambivalent towards modernity and the opportunities it offered women in a different way from Pearl Buck. She was disappointed by the lack of ‘progress’ being made, but at the same time regretted the loss of social customs as she grew older. Benson was born in England in 1892 and kept a daily diary from the age of nine. Her mother, Caroline Essex, was the sister of novelist Mary Cholmondeley. Benson’s own first literary success came with a poem submitted in 1905 to the St. Nicholas Magazine, a magazine for children published in New York. Other keen contributors – members of the ‘St Nicholas League’, who were issued with badges – included E. B. White, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Faulkner and Vita Sackville-West.1 It is intriguing to note such a group of writers from Britain and the USA even at a young age being part of an international sphere, a junior version of the literary world of which they would later be members. Benson travelled widely, first as a child with her mother for health reasons, and later independently. During a round the world trip

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including an extended stay in California, in 1920 she decided to return to England and undertook an eighteen-month journey via Asia, during which she worked in a mission school and a hospital. In China she met James Carew O’Gorman Anderson (known as Shaemas), a Customs officer, and they were married in London on 27 September 1921, exactly one year after they met. Following her marriage, Stella Benson lived in China – with intermittent trips elsewhere – until her death in 1933. Her diaries, which at her request were sealed for nearly fifty years after her death, provide a useful archive for tracking her attitudes and through this the progression of feminism in China. Held at the Cambridge University Library and made available in December 1982, they are written in pencil and demonstrate her prolific writing ability. From the age of nine she had kept a daily record of the events of her life, and in the adult volumes a day’s entry often runs to several pages. In these accounts, she writes frankly about her activities and feelings, including negative attitudes towards her associates and her husband. This suggests on the one hand that she did not expect her diaries to be read, although surely she could have anticipated her husband’s seeing them, as he was entrusted with depositing them in Cambridge. Given her chronic poor health, it would surely have also seemed likely that she would predecease him, and as a novelist she must have been writing at least the later volumes with some eye to a future readership. The diaries end with a brief note by Anderson after her final entry, giving the date of her death, describing his wife as ‘a magnificent woman’, and stating that he has not edited the diaries in any way. That he writes in admiring tones about someone who has presented him fairly badly through the diaries is impressive. That he chose not to edit or expunge the diaries is even more striking, and hints at a very different character from the one presented by his wife. She was visited by muses – or as she calls them in her diary, her secret friends – who inspired her writing. ‘Very much beset just now by most delightful secret friends. If I lived alone, now, I believe I should have them always. They are really an involuntary drug, and before I die I shall be overwhelmed by them, unless Shaemas can keep them off.’2 For a woman so firmly anti-faith, the level of mysticism in her writing is curious. She claimed that being a novelist was about

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creating people and worlds rather than just recording them – and the fanciful aspects of her writing (fairies and mystical experiences) are certainly from the realms of creation rather than observation. However, her diaries, created from observation, are arguably more engaging and moving than any of her fictional work. Her skill as a writer as well as her keen eye means that her diligent daily entries show a comprehensive world-view. An admirer of the writer wrote in a brief hagiography soon after Benson’s death that the Anderson-Benson marriage had been happy.3 The diaries show otherwise: by the late 1920s the marriage was breaking down and Anderson had asked Stella’s permission to take a mistress, to which she reluctantly agreed – ‘a safety-valve in the form of a Chinese extra-wife’.4 She mused, ‘I am very lucky to be up against this difficulty, if at all, in company with one so honest and just as Shaemas. So many other men, feeling so aggrieved & left alone as he does, would have satisfied themselves with another woman without telling their wives, or at least without preliminary warning’.5 This presents an interesting comparison in that while Pearl Buck was arguing that modernity was a companionate monogamous marriage, Stella Benson was negotiating the ‘modernity’ of being consulted before her husband took a mistress. Benson often indicated that she felt old while still a young woman, perhaps due to her regular illnesses, and caught pneumonia while accompanying Shaemas on a visit to Hongay in Tonkin. Stella Benson died in hospital on 6 December 1933 at Baie d’Along, near Haiphon. She is buried at French cemetery on the Île de Charbon, near Hongay.

Female Independence Benson’s writing on women reflects some of her own ambivalence and dissatisfaction with both women’s role in society and the gains of the suffragist movement. Her views on women, as seen in her writings, are often disparaging. In her 1917 novel, This is the End, she writes, ‘I cannot introduce you to a heroine because I have never met one’.6 In her diary are references to men demanding nothing of women than sex, and the suggestion that women offered little else either. She

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is disappointed by the social progress made by women, and the lack of female solidarity that had been the suffragist ideal. It always ruffles me when women treat one another as enemies – range themselves in the male camp and defy women – as though we were all in a state of war. It has an effect of ungenerosity & I had always hoped that young girls – brought up in a freer generation than mine – were freer of these womanly meannesses.7 Her expectations of women thus varied, and fluctuated with the experiences of her own life. Having entered marriage with traditional expectations, of home life and family, she found a disappointment. Her husband’s frequent absences left her feeling ignored, and her infertility was a personal tragedy. We had a great blow to-day. [several lines blacked out] I must forget about a baby. I can’t say it is so sad to me as it would be to many women who are stronger & more full of life. I feel very strongly that having a baby might have gone hard with me & perhaps my life is saved by this obstacle. It is like the War with Shaemas; he tried to be in it but his failure probably saved his life – but like that again I shall always feel that I have missed a privilege & a great and fine ordeal, just as he feels about the War. I would like at least to have tried to prove myself a woman . . . This way at least I am more free. Perhaps it is deliberate on the part of Fate, this insisting on keeping me footloose and soul-loose and – in and out of everything . . .8 Her biographer, R. Meredith Bedell, correlates Benson’s childlessness with her ‘passionate attachment to dogs’.9 Her dogs certainly made recurring appearances in her diaries, and her fondness for pets was clear even in childhood with her devotion to her dog, Pepper. Her relative isolation in China meant that breeding dogs was a hobby in which she could indulge. In fact, breeding dogs and finding homes for the puppies was one of the ways she interacted with the locals wherever she and Shaemas lived. Indeed, her idea that at least she had personal

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freedom that would not be afforded her as a mother is significant in her choice of her career path and other activities. In later years, she was disappointed by both the (lack of) progress made by women and also being denied the social courtesies of past generations. In my girlhood, young people were there to flatter the vanity and sense of power of their seniors, & to make life easier for them ‘consider them’ – that was part of good manners. Now that I am middle aged myself & ought, in the old convention to have been able to count on whetting my vanity on the young – lo, it is the other way round – young people’s vanity needs the submission of their elders – &, wherever I go, it is I, the ageing matron, who have to make life comfortable for the young, wait at rendezvous for them, call them, take their tickets, pack their suitcases. Certainly it is fairer than the other way – (though perhaps it is only fashion that makes one think so) – only it is disappointing to my generation that we missed our turn to be pampered.10 Her sense of isolation from Shaemas also permeates the diaries. She fervently wished for a spiritual and intellectual connexion with him, which she never seemed to find. She translated this into philosophy on marriage in general. I imagine one of the stumbling blocks in the way of being married is that there are two such very distinct ideals of marriage – the rude marriage and the polite marriage. People to whom all the pleasure of marriage is physical don’t mind a certain ugliness – in fact it seems to them to enhance the pleasure, it seems to them to prove sincerity. All those details like undressing in each other’s presence, not being modest about physical processes, not being fastidious about appearance, snorting, & flaunting of false teeth etc. – all these seem beyond criticism because they are natural – I say this without spite, for I can see that naturalness is as good an ideal as fastidiousness (if ideals could be spoken of in terms of comparative ‘morality’ – which they can’t). But

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these two ideals of marriage are inborn – the person who is not repelled by superficial uglinesses of intimacy cannot be made fastidious because fastidiousness seems to him rarified [sic] & artificial. And the person who is repelled & clings to modesty & concealment of the indecorative appliances of life and contact of the imagination perhaps more than contact of the body – can’t change either. You can’t think a thing beautiful that repels you – and you can’t think a thing ugly that delights you . . . Shaemas thinks that the difference lies in upbringing – that women are brought up to be over-nice, but I think that the obstacle is not between women & men – I am sure that men are as often fastidious as women are frankly natural. One is man’s marriage and the other is gentleman’s marriage. It is easy to be funny at the expense of fastidiousness – naturalness seems to have the gods on its side. And yet my hunger to be allowed to have a fastidious modest life, a room to myself, without ugly things in it, to have some kind of romanticness left in love, doesn’t feel like the whim of a prude it is a real hunger.11 She projects from her own experiences to general views on women and men. Both the personal – this is a diary and her marriage – and the public intersect with her prescriptions for women interlaced with her own life. I have married a man without any sense of humour and all my uncertainties & incredulities about him follow on to that. I can expect from him anything, perhaps, but mental comfort or gaiety or impersonal light interest in the world or a kind of everyday courage. He can’t see – when he’s calm – that anything is funny except, sometimes, a direct joke; and when he’s sad he can’t see that anything is not sad, he can’t speak for a second of anything but one sore sad subject. Obviously I ought to have known this, I who heard him till my brain and very soul were sore, monologuing on the subject of Florence.12 The diary has other references to Shaemas’ mistress prior to their marriage, Florence, who wrote insulting letters to Stella.13

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Benson continually discusses in her diary her attitudes to the status of women and social expectations. After having lunch with a friend in Berkeley, Trudie Landon, she wrote: But she is very much engaged in that life that seems to my English middle-aged perceptions not shocking but intensely vulgar – largely, or course, because the words in themselves have such a vulgar tang to us – a life of ‘steadies’ of ‘boy friends’ and ‘sweeties’, of ‘necking & petting parties’ etc. I cannot decide in my own mind whether all this directness of approach between boys & girls is destructive or not. Girls like Trudie are living really the same life that young men have lived in all generations – only in a much safer less violent way – the fact that practically all girls are so accessible must certainly have abolished the prostitute evil. I asked Trudie how far the petting really went and she said as a rule it might best be called ‘massage’, but that it didn’t matter how far it went as they all knew how to avoid having babies.14 In her own life she had an unusual level of independence and freedom to make her own choices. Wintering in the West Indies 1913–14, had provided material for her first novel, I Pose (1915). Her mother took her to the Caribbean in order to convalesce following a series of operations to improve her sinus conditions. Here she decided to try to be independent on their return to England, and live away from her family and work for suffrage causes (this was possible due to a modest annuity from her mother’s family once she came of age). Her mother agreed to this move, but warned that she risked losing her social position.15 The financial success of I Pose cemented her career as a writer and she published regularly from that point. The novel is a curious romance between a gardener and a suffragette and it reflects some of Benson’s insecurities about herself. The woman was quite plain, and therefore worthy only of invisibility in the eyes of a self-respecting young man. She had the sort of hair that plays truant over the ears, but has not vitality

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enough to do it prettily. Her complexion was not worthy of the name. Her eyes made no attempt to redeem her plainness, which is the only point of having eyes in fiction. Her only outward virtue was that she did not attempt to dress as if she were pretty. And even this is not a very attractive virtue.16 Benson’s tone is humorous, and witty, addressing the reader at times with irony, as the reference to the use of ‘eyes in fiction’ in the quote above, and lines like: ‘One may virtuously destroy life in a good cause, but to destroy property is a heinous crime, whatever its motive. (Yes, I know that made you tremble, but there are not many more paragraphs of it).’17 Her conversational address towards the reader is matched in her diaries. She discusses through the novel the status of women, an issue she returned to in her diaries throughout her life. ‘One is born a woman’, said the suffragette. ‘A woman in her sphere – which is the home. One starts by thinking of one’s dolls, later one thinks about one’s looks, and later still about one’s clothes. But nobody marries one. And then one finds that one’s sphere – which is the home – has been a prison all along. Has it ever struck you that the tragedy of a woman’s life is that she comes to think – she can think and organise her sphere at the same time. Her work never lets her get away from herself. . . .’18 Even at this early stage in her work, she took a mildly mocking approach to women and female behaviour, however ironically: ‘But you must allow the woman the privilege of the last word. It is always more dignified to allow her what she is perfectly certain to take in any case’.19 Her self-aware whimsy put her somewhat at odds with the modernist trends in literature at the time. The gardener was not intentionally modern. It is the tendency of his generation to be modern – it is difficult to believe that it has been the tendency of every generation from the prehistoric

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downwards. And it was the gardener’s ambition to walk in the opposite direction to the tendency of his generation. He shared the common delusion that by walking apart he could be unique. This arises from the divine fallacy that man makes man, that he was the making of himself in his own hands. I am glad I share this pathetic illusion with my gardener.20

Travel Her diaries contain many observations in which she discusses the world she encounters on her journeys. On first arrival in Hong Kong, she wrote: ‘I like the look of Hongkong [sic], though the social life sure does alarm me, subalterns always seemed as terrifying as dragons to me. But I loved whizzing in rickshaws through the narrow teeming streets, I loved the straight restrained costumes of the Chinese people, & the vivid shops, and the strangely-burdened coolies – women carrying the heaviest loads.’21 The references to women’s labour and injustices towards women recur, particularly in her observations of strangers. She rarely discusses women of her own acquaintance as suffering from mistreatment, or even social attitudes she encounters being discriminatory. Despite her keen suffragettism, living in an artificial expatriate community isolated Benson for much of her adult life from British society and the discourse on women’s rights. In China, Benson was reporting on a country in flux in attitudes towards women and the presentations of life by female authors within that society present a useful counterpoint and context for her observations. Like Buck, Benson claimed that she was only happy when writing a book, but it is in fact her diaries that tell us the most about her world and her views. Her drive to write can be thanked for the huge archive of daily records she left. Although described as a travel writer, she is more a ‘life writer’ as she recorded each day, at home and abroad. In her own life, she can be seen as a flâneuse. She travelled widely with extended periods in Switzerland and California before first heading to China in 1920 (her stay in Switzerland was also aimed at improving her chronically poor health). As a constant observer, she

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remained a representative of urban modernity in her attitudes. Her connexion to a regional public sphere can be seen in her diary reference to a trip to Kobe, during which she called on ‘Morgan Young, editor of the Japan Chronicle, to tell him we thought his paper the best in the Far East’.22 Diaries of course record not the transit but the moments of stopping, when the author is able to write.23 On the whole, published diaries by women are ‘not the repositories of their most intimate feelings or of any potentially damaging remarks’.24 Contrary to this, Benson’s diaries contain both these things, which can be assumed to be the reason she requested that they be kept sealed for fifty years. The potential reader is a motivator for the diarist. It is the audience ‘hovering at the edge of the page’ that provides impetus for writing to shape a ‘textually coherent work’ rather than jottings.25 She wrote, ‘Probably most other journalists share my illusion that a happening is not complete – has not quite finished happening – until words for it have been found’.26 This shows her desire to record and also her self-identification as a journalist (in the sense of the press as well as a diary-writer), that she was recording events for others who were not there to witness them. Her constant record of the events of her life shows the extent to which diary keeping was a part of Stella Benson’s mental life, an externalisation of internal dialogue, perhaps for a future audience but also to record her thoughts and resolve her own problems. The entries include both ‘records’ of events and analysis of ideas. As the Goncourt brothers did in their joint diary, she drifts from the generalities of comments about dinners attended and people met to philosophical contemplation. I went to luncheon with Mrs Archer at the Hongkong [sic] Hotel. She is a very silly nervous woman, but sometimes says things that rather surprise me – things showing a mind that does enquire into unanswerable things – she tells me, for instance, that she was in her hospital room hearing cries & moans & callings from other rooms & gets confused wondering why it is that pain can be so immediate just inside another creature’s skin – and not

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be felt in the identical flesh so near – what cuts one body from another so absolutely – even married bodies actually feel nothing of each other’s sensations. I have often worked myself into a torment with this same wonder – what makes thoughts so infectious & bodies so isolated?27 In June 1918, she left England for the USA and on arrival took several jobs before obtaining a post as tutor at the University of California at Berkeley and later as an editorial reader for the University Press. She was exasperated with America despite enjoying her stay and the friends she met there. This ambivalence to her environment is matched by her views on China after she moved there. Her writing expresses an abiding love for London, yet she chose to live elsewhere. This flâneurie on a global scale expresses the ambivalence of the flâneuse. The Andersons’ honeymoon, which they spent crossing America in a Ford car, was described in Stella’s book The Little World (1925). Benson’s original plan was for her husband to find a job in California, possibly teaching Chinese at Berkeley, but when he was unable to find employment, they returned to China to live. Stella continued to write novels and stories most of which are now forgotten; her novels included Goodbye, Stranger (1926), The Man Who Missed the Bus (1928) and Tobit Transplanted (1930) which won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize. She continued to comment on women in her observations as they travelled to different towns. On New Year’s Eve in Deming, New Mexico: We had supper in a café and studied the young men & women of Deming, all just going to a New Year dance. They intrigued me, they looked more interesting than the average provincial young American, the young men wore little whiskers, the young women short hair, almost like Chelsea. But their talk was incredible. The men either read the comic supplement or shouted facetiousness to the men at other tables, although each had a young woman at his table. The young women seemed in no way surprised to be almost entirely left out of what conversation there was, they powdered their noses, turned round sometimes & addressed

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rather indifferent remarks to each other, & when one of the men did by chance address them they changed their faces in a second to an almost sickening expression of obsequious amusement & interest. Why in America where the women are outnumbered by the men so at any rate needn’t worry about not marrying – are they more slavish to men – before they marry – in provincial towns more than any other set of women I ever saw.28 Benson’s observations also posit her in the role of flâneuse, observing particularly the cities she visited, including San Francisco and Hong Kong. This poem, ‘The Newer Zion’, published in the collection Twenty, is a paean to London and describes such city strolling: When I achieve the chestnut joke of dying, When I slip through that Gate at Kensal Green, Shall I go spoil the fantasy by prying Behind the staging of this darling scene? Shall I – a cast-off puppet – seek to study The Showman who manipulates the strings, The Hand that paints the western drop-scene ruddy, The prosy truths of all these faery things? Shall I – self-conscious by a glassy ocean – Stammer strange songs amid an alien host? Or shall I not, refusing such promotion, Bequeath to London my contented ghost? I will come back to my Eternal City; Her fogs once more my countenance shall dim; I will enliven your austere committee With gossip gleaned among the cherubim. By day I’ll tread again the sounding mazes, By night I’ll track the moths about the Park; My feet shall fall among the dusky daisies, Nor break nor bruise a petal in the dark. I will repeat old inexpensive orgies; Drink nectar at the bun-shop in Shoreditch, Or call for Nut-Ambrosia at St. George’s,

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And with a ghost-tip make the waitress rich. My soundless feet shall fly among the runners Through the red thunders of a Zeppelin raid, My still voice cheer the Anti-Aircraft gunners, The fires shall glare – but I shall cast no shade. And if a Shadow, wading in the torrent Of high excitement, snatch me from the riot – (Fool that he is) – and fumble with his warrant, And hail a hearse, and beg me to ‘Go quiet,’ Mocking I’ll go, and he shall be postillion, Until we reach the Keeper of the Door: ‘H’m . . . Benson . . . Stella . . . militant civilian . . . There’s some mistake, we’ve had this soul before . . . .’ ****** Ah, none shall keep my soul from this its Zion; Lost in the spaces I shall hear and bless The splendid voice of London, like a lion Calling its lover in the wilderness.29 These close observations of a loved city and self-description as a ‘militant civilian’ showed how she saw herself. The constant travel and presenting herself as having an urban identity reflect the ideal of independence of the Modern Woman.

Self-fashioning One of the major themes of modernity that Benson represents is that of self-authoring. ‘My first book, I Pose, was written in order to Show Off; it was an exercise in deliberate self-revelation, as I imagine all books by authors in their early twenties are.’30 Of her diary she said, ‘to begin with it isn’t a writer’s diary at all – nothing of my professional writing seems to belong to the Stella Benson who writes this diary at all. And there is no real story of the times – nothing special about the war and no echo of the political thunders that have raged through

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all my lifetime . . .’31 The fact that she commented more on her own experiences than current events is what makes the diaries so relevant to understanding her view of modernity. Benson’s personal concerns are also apparent, when read alongside the diaries the elements of the fiction that reflect her own life become clear. . . . Courtesy and the suffragette sat on the promenade-deck, and discussed the day. The suffragette was astonished to find herself in this position, being addressed as ‘my dear’, by a contemporary. ‘Just like a real girl’, she thought, for as she had never passed through the mutual hair-brushing stage with other girls, she always expected to be hated, and never to be loved. She found it rather delightful to have Courtesy’s hand passed through her arm, but she also found it awkward, and hardly knew how to adjust her own arm to the unaccustomed contact. The very small details of intercourse are very hard indeed to a snake, though pleasant by reason of novelty.32 In this Benson describes one of her own anxieties growing up, of not being a ‘real girl’. This related to her recurrent illness, which prevented her attending school for long periods, and making friends with girls her own age. It also referred to her appearance: she considered herself too plain to be a ‘real girl’. And she described men’s attraction to women with this: I think men are akin to sheep as well as to monkeys, and the theory only needs a Darwin to trace the connection. I have yet to meet the man who, where women are concerned, does not follow in the track of others of his kind. I think that very few men conceive an original preference for a woman unbiased by the general public tendency.33 Benson saw herself as homely and not the recipient of a great deal of male attention, although pictures of her in her youth show that she was not unattractive.

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As a writer, she could perhaps be described as a reluctant ‘modernist’, having an envious relationship with her near-contemporary, Virginia Woolf. Living in China she felt was a major career disadvantage, which kept her out of the loop of London’s literary scene. During one visit home, she despaired of having to return to China with Shaemas. ‘When I am going to China just on the eve of the coming out of my book – the happiest & most exciting times of my life are these – we both got furious & Shaemas would not stop blaming me for my arrogance, would not soften at all’.34 The British population in cities such as Shanghai was too small to sustain much artistic and cultural life (let alone the smaller outposts to which Anderson was sent).35 Nonetheless, she tried to keep in touch with the reception her work received back in Britain. Benson had a wide readership, and her books were well reviewed. She commented on receiving a review for her book, The Poor Man, ‘We have had, at last, a lot of mail and I got some excellent reviews, the most pleasing of which were the Spectator and the Westminster Gazette, neither of which was a review at all but a thundering burst of praise’.36 This shows her focus on fame and her position in the literary community. In 1928 she published Worlds Within Worlds, a collection of brief articles, which had previously appeared in various magazines. ‘A collection of – not stories, not essays, but rather impressions and observations, each complete, yet all strung on a thread of obviously authentic experience’.37 This authentic experience included the comment: ‘I believe the Chinese are one of the most prosaic and unoriginal peoples in the world to-day, and have the least to teach us’.38 She continued to make observations of Chinese society, particularly the lives of women. In a review of The Faraway Bride (published in America as Tobit Transplanted) in 1931, Benson is described as ‘a writer of force and individuality’ who was writing about ‘Manchuria, her latest habitat’.39 Concurring with G. K. Chesterton’s claim that travel narrows the mind, she said ‘I used to think that rootlessness meant lack of prejudices – that being foot-loose meant also being mind-loose – (in the best and most refined sense). But now, as an empire-builder myself, I do not believe that travel broadens the mind after all. It seems to me

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that the further away from the Strand you go, the more your mind shrinks. Often the Empire-builder Home At Last from Vast Spaces has a mind that has shrunk to a mere button’.40 This disparagement of the expatriate community tallies with the idea that China was not the chosen destination of the most talented Britons.41 It also links clearly to her view of the Metropole as intellectual centre.

Politics From 1914 she had worked for the United Suffragists in London, and attended rallies.42 Her tasks involved general office work (addressing envelopes and arranging chairs at meetings), as well as, on one occasion, the bizarre job of following Sylvia Pankhurst and tracing her movements after she was released from prison.43 After war broke out, to her chagrin she was expected to sell Votes for Women on street corners rather than take an active role using her skills as a writer.44 The war also damaged her finances, its effect on shares reducing the annuity she received and making it necessary for her to work to retain independence from her family.45 So instead she joined the Charity Organisation Society (COS), a group which, like the Salvation Army, aimed to improve the lot of the deserving poor of London’s slums. The charity she satirises in Living Alone was based on her experiences with the COS. But perception goes out of committees. The more committees you belong to, the less of ordinary life you will understand. When your daily round becomes nothing more than a daily round of committees you might as well be dead . . . Organising work consists of sitting in ’buses bound for remote quarters of London, and ringing the bells of people who are almost always found to be away for a fortnight.46 The London Charity Organisation Society was established in 1869. Its intent was to rationalise charitable works. They drew on the ‘scientific’ principles to ‘expose the cunning of the slothful poor and help rectify their immorality’.47 Early committees focused on preventing

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begging and ‘impostors’.48 The objectives of the District Committees in 1913–14 included both ‘learning how to befriend persons in distress in the best way’ and ‘careful enquiry in all cases in order to test the truth of the applicants’ statements’.49 The COS represented the beginnings of what is now common practice of social work, with caseworkers monitoring recipients and reporting on their progress rather than just dispensing aid. As it was funded by subscriptions, there was also a strong focus on satisfying subscribers that their contributions were not being wasted. Although Benson was involved in suffragettism and women’s rights organisations from her youth, her relationship to these groups remained ambivalent. She satirised them in her fiction, and in her diaries she described their meetings as dull. Her later involvement with work in Hong Kong to improve the rights of women was tempered by her impatience with the Church, when religious and missionary organisations had done significant work to improve women’s education. She was most passionate about ending the traffic of women in Hong Kong, while admitting that many of the women who were the subject of concerns about prostitution were not ‘trafficked’ but there by choice (a rational choice, in Benson’s view, given the limited range of options available to girls in rural China at that time). I found myself upon a committee for enquiring into International Traffic in Women by order of the League of Nations . . . The things we heard made our blood boil – Dame Rachel S. Crowdie’s report is certainly very impressive. Three Chinese women on the committee and a Salvation Army Englishwoman were the only ones among us who knew anything about traffic as it effects [sic] Hongkong [sic]. There are no licensed foreign prostitutes here, & none are known to be imported, but Chinese girls are brought from country districts in China, not by force as a rule but by smooth promises – and the government licenses them . . . after ascertaining that they really choose to live the prostitute’s life. Out of each dollar that a girl earns she pays 50 cents to the brothel mistress & 25 cents to her amah (who is often her procuress). It is very boil-blood-making to think that the

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government endorses this traffic by licensing it – but it is not, strictly speaking, relevant to the League of Nations purpose which is the International traffic. You can’t say that there is traffic, in a case where a silly girl is brought by tempting (but not untrue) promises, to Hongkong [sic] – the life of a prostitute, to a lazy or pleasure loving girl is certainly preferable to life as the wife & drudge of a country peasant – virtue is certainly not its own reward. No lies are needed to lure girls from a prospect of working in sun & rain in stubborn fields, with always one baby on one’s back & another coming – to do all cooking, washing & scrubbing as well as field work by day & accede to husband’s demands by night – to a life of jewels and beautiful clothes & bright lights & caresses.50 This is an important element of the debate about prostitutes; not all were victims requiring salvation, and prostitution could be preferable to a ‘moral’ life in extreme poverty. Making such a ‘choice’ was an option for a woman who was a modern agent in society. The attitude that such women were all victims requiring rescuing defines women as objects. It is as a Modern Woman herself that Benson’s observations are useful. Her comments about women’s status in China demonstrate the outrage of the suffragette for the subjection of women. She believed in social reform through legislation rather than the missionary focus on salvation for ‘fallen women’.51 Her attitudes in other respects are puzzlingly contradictory. While virulently anti-missionary, she saw value in proselytising other ‘western’ ideas in the form of women’s rights. Whether freedom for women and girls is a culturally imperialist value imposed by the west or a universal human ‘right’ is a debate that continues today, and the tensions between cultural relativism and universal freedom can be seen in Shanghai of the 1920s with campaigns to improve the situation of women. Benson’s view of women’s situation is demonstrated by her wry comment, claimed ‘Nature has no more voice in China than has any other female’.52 Despite Benson’s anti-missionary (and more generally anti-Church) views, it was missionary schools that offered the first general education

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for girls in China, and through missionary influence – direct and indirect – created a generation of feminists in China who had been exposed to western social norms, including rights for women. In 1902, there were 4,000 students at missionary schools for women.53 The paradox is that while in England, these missionaries may not have been supporters of suffragettism, when confronted with the oppressive practices in China of footbinding and mui tsai [muicai], they could not avoid placing themselves in the role of ‘feminist’, wanting to help (or ‘improve’) Chinese women. The first modern girls’ school organised by the Chinese was established in Shanghai in 1897. Within the next six years, several more such schools linked to the Reform Group had been established – this presented Shanghai as a favourable market for new writing aimed at women.54 Benson’s work to improve the situation of women in Shanghai and Hong Kong has been mildly disparaged by her biographer, R. Meredith Bedell. Bedell presents Benson as a dilettante idealist with various improvement schemes, all small in scale, such as making paper bags ‘in partnership with a crippled woman’, and offering basket weaving lessons in London.55 Bedell’s book was written while Benson’s diaries were still sealed. Nonetheless, this laughable cliché of upper-middleclass do-gooding – basket weaving! – is not entirely eliminated by reading the diaries, in which Benson alternates between socialite and social activist. Unlike Pearl Buck, Benson’s views on peasants, in China and elsewhere, were patronising. In 1933, while on a boat returning to China from the Dutch East Indies, one of Benson’s fellow passengers, a Jesuit priest, showed a film he had taken of Chinese peasants. It is really quite startling to one who (like me) thinks that the Chinese & Europeans are intensely alien one to another to see how the Catholic illusion really does bring Chinese peasants into the family as it were – even in appearance these women, with handkerchiefs & bunchy skirts, working in the fields and listening to the angelus, are exactly like French or Italian peasants: photographs of passers-by in a Chinese Catholic district saluting a wayside crucifix show how the act of crossing oneself

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becomes really part of the body somehow. The peasant doing it seems expressing something ingrained, like eating or scratching himself. This [indecipherable] into the bones is never effected by other forms of Christianity in China. Protestant converts always look conscious – showing off – like canaries on an oak tree.56 From the one-two punch on Catholic Europe – referring to Catholicism as an ‘illusion’ – and the peasant in China, she follows up with a swift kick to Protestant evangelism, one of her favourite targets. Her view of people’s faith in this way is both patronising and offensive, but also includes the essentialising view of Chinese peasantry, which pervades Pearl Buck’s work and had become the dominant western view of China at the time. It also implies the ideal of modernity being Protestant (or indeed atheist), urban women (someone like Stella Benson). Catholic peasantry are held up as the antithesis of modernity. Her views on the path for Chinese women assume the position that their situation was clearly deplorable and in need of reform. However, her resistance to the work of missionaries meant that her vision of the ideal Modern Woman would not be the result of a Christian education. While highly critical of missionary activities, she did not offer viable alternatives for the west to reform the lives of Chinese women.

Conclusion The sense in which Stella Benson was out of step even with her own generation can explain at least partially how her books have fallen out of favour with the reading public. Her inclusion of elements such as fairies, at a time when their use in fiction for adults was already on the wane, makes these works less appealing to later generations. While fairies had traditionally existed in European literature, the ‘Golden Age of Children’s Literature’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ‘so ensconced the fairies in the nursery that it virtually dislodged them from their places in adult literature and art’.57 Although there was a general rise in the popularity of spiritualism following World War I, there was also a rise in interest in scientific proof for the validity of various phenomena.58 The Cottingley fairy photos,

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which inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Coming of the Fairies (1922), hastened their departure from serious culture: a tendency to render them material or ‘prove’ them scientifically paradoxically diminished their importance.59 Photographs of fairies, offering (or claiming to offer) a ‘literal depiction of the imaginary’ rendered them ‘trivial and foolish’.60 Joseph Collins wrote of Benson in The Doctor Looks at Literature: Psychological Studies of Life and Letters. In a chapter titled ‘Two Lesser Literary Ladies of London: Stella Benson and Virginia Woolf’ (his two primary ‘Literary Ladies of London’ were Katherine Mansfield and Rebecca West), he describes Benson as a young woman who ‘lived in this country [the USA] for two years after the war’, possessing an ‘unusual personality with an uncommon outlook on life, and an enviable capacity to describe what she saw, felt, and fabricated’. He called I Pose a ‘story of allegorical cast lightened with flashes of whimsical sprightliness.61 Referring to the foreword to Living Alone, which says it is not a book for or about ‘real people’, he says ‘her world is not the traditional fairyland of the nursery, nor are the supernatural endowments of some of the characters the classic equipment of witches and fairies, although her personæ dramatis include both who function under the law of Magic’.62 Nonetheless, this fey archness of not writing for ‘real people’ does make her books seem less relevant to readers today, however current some of her ideas may still be. Benson wrote, ‘Magic people are always obvious – so obvious that we veteran souls can rarely understand them, – they are never subtle, and though they are new, they are never Modern. You may tell them in your cynical way that to-day is the only real day, and that there is nothing more unmentionable than yesterday except the day before’.63 Katherine Briggs called this a ‘humorous and whimsical’ book about witchcraft.64 Like Pearl Buck, Stella Benson demonstrated ambivalence towards modernity, and the idea of the Modern Woman. Long-time resident in China, she remained an outsider and could not discuss Chinese society with Buck’s authority. Her observations however offer a useful counterpoint. As a diarist, she demonstrates simultaneously the ‘writing’

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and ‘performing’ roles of creating the Modern Woman, as she recorded her lived experiences. Benson’s ambivalence towards modernity and the ‘progress’ made by women is shown throughout her work, particularly her discussions of women’s role in relation to men: ‘The ideal of chastity in women is of course a rather tempting ideal, but maybe only because it had that thin kind of white beauty which old ideals have. New wise ugly ideals are being now given birth, and at any rate they can’t make a much worse mess of the world than the old pretty ideals did’.65 Even her decision to live in China is telling. Although for young women with sufficient private funds (in Stella’s case from her family and royalties from her books) to embark on a round the world voyage was increasingly common, electing to stay in the Far East makes her unusual. On the one hand, of course she was there due to her husband’s work, but the fierce independence displayed in her diaries (and the practical fact that she earned her own living) meant that her staying in China was very much a choice. Benson is largely unknown to the reading public today, despite having been very popular in her time. Her status as a novelist did not survive after World War II.66 Unlike Buck, she was not the recipient of major literary awards that would have at least maintained some readership for her work in the years since. However, perhaps the fact that Benson’s novels are no longer widely read enables her to be seen as a writer distinctly of her time, rather than one of universal and timeless themes. Her fiction, as well as her diaries, shows her grappling with the idea of modernity and appropriate responses to it. She observed the situation for women in China and Britain and offered different assessments, based on her sense of social justice and equal rights for women. In a quirk of history, after Benson’s death, her husband remarried. The children of this marriage include Benedict Anderson, the author of Imagined Communities, which encapsulates much of the experience of which Benson is representative, in the way that disparate (and diasporic) individuals perceive themselves to be part of a community through print media.67

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SOPHIA CHEN ZEN (1890 –1976)

Sophia Chen Zen was a member of the first generation of Chinese women intellectuals to be educated abroad, and one of its most outspoken representatives on feminism and the changing role of women in China. Chen Hengzhe (Wade-Giles: Ch’en Heng-che) adopted the name Sophia H. Chen – after marriage Sophia Chen Zen – and this was the by-line under which she published in English.1 As the recipient of a scholarship from the Boxer Indemnity Fund Grants, she studied at Vassar and in 1920 became China’s first female professor, teaching history and English literature at Peking University.2 Sophia Chen Zen’s unusual educational opportunities were the result of a family who encouraged female education, and scholarship funding that gave her the chance to travel to the USA. In 1908, the United States government had ratified an agreement to give up part of the Boxer Indemnity money from China, which was about $12 million. The money should be used instead for Chinese students to study in the west. The plan had three elements: first, the founding of Tsing Hua School, a preparatory school for Chinese students aiming to study abroad; the second, to send Chinese students to America; the last, to set up an organization to supervise the practical affairs of Chinese overseas students in Washington. The Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program was the most important scheme for educating Chinese students in America and arguably the most consequential and successful in the entire foreign study movement of twentieth-century China. There were more than 800 members in the American Chinese Students Association organization in 1911, and the next year the Qing

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government sent over one hundred more students to America. The exact number of Chinese overseas students in America and Europe during the later years of the Qing Dynasty cannot be established, but it has been estimated at around 10,000.3 The Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program was opened to women in 1914. Every two years after that, around ten women were sent to America to study.4 Zen was part of this first cohort. Although women were part of this wave of Chinese students abroad, beginning in the 1880s until the 1920s, female students were separate from their male counterparts in their experiences, facing questions of not only what it meant to be a modern Chinese, but to be a ‘modern Chinese woman’.5 Until the Boxer grants became available to women (and even then, the number who benefited from this was tiny), the women who had access to education abroad were either the adopted daughters or wards of western missionaries in China, or the daughters of Chinese families with connexions overseas. This meant that they were both financially elite, and from families with progressive attitudes towards female education. Of overseaseducated Chinese, the numbers educated in Japan were much larger than those educated in the west, so Zen’s experience put her in a small minority. Zen enrolled at Vassar in 1915 having spent a year at Putnam Hall, a girls’ preparatory school in Poughkeepsie, New York.6 In the year she arrived, she was one of two Chinese students.7 These were not the first East Asian students at Vassar, however: Yamakawa Sutematsu had graduated in 1882, and her brother, Kenjiro, was the first Japanese graduate of Yale.8 She later founded the Peeresses’ School in Tokyo, which was attended by Princess Chichibu, who I discuss in the chapter on Caroline McMahon. Majoring in history, Zen received a Vassar fellowship for graduate study that enabled her to earn a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago with a thesis titled ‘The intercourse between China and the West in ancient and mediaeval times (221 B.C.–1367 A.D.)’. Her interest in this area is demonstrated in her articles, in which she traces the treatment of women in China to Indian influences and compares this to western influences on Chinese society. After she finished her MA,

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her friend Hu Shih asked her to return to China to teach at Peking University, rather than stay in the USA to complete a PhD.9 Hu Shi (1891–1962), another Boxer Indemnity Scholar, had studied first at Cornell and then obtained a PhD in philosophy from Columbia in 1917. Hu was a pioneer of the vernacular language in literature during the May Fourth movement, and later ambassador from the Republic of China to the United States of America (1938–1941). Among his other achievements, he commented frequently on China’s journey to modernity and the status of women in Chinese society. His influence on Sophia Chen Zen’s own work means his ideas merit some discussion here. In a 1933 speech at Chicago University, he argued: At the outset, it is necessary to point out that the position of women in the old family was never so low as many superficial observers have led us to believe. On the contrary, woman has always been the despot of the family. The authority of the mother and the mother-in-law is very well known. Even the wife is always the terror of the husband; no other country in the world can compete with China for the distinction of being the nation of hen-pecked husbands. Certainly, no other country has produced so many stories of hen-pecked husbands. The wife built up her strong position sometimes upon love, sometimes upon beauty or personality, but in most cases upon the fact that she could not be dislodged from her position: she could not be divorced! It is true that there was no law forbidding divorce; and that the Classics laid down seven conditions for divorcing a wife. Jealousy, or failure to bear sons, or even talking too much, would be sufficient to divorce her. But the same classics also gave three conditions under which she could not be sent away: (i) if she has shared with the husband a three-year mourning for one of his parents; (2) if the husband has become rich or attained high official positions since marriage; or (3) if she has no home to go back to. These conditions were very common and almost made divorce absolutely impossible. Particularly the last condition was a most powerful protection of the wife, for as China came more and more under the inhuman influence of the medieval religions

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and began to condemn remarriages of widows, the divorced woman found herself with nowhere to go except to death or the nunnery. He went on to describe how the Civil Code had changed this, with regulations for divorce. Even the break-up of the old family, which is often lamented by well-meaning critics, must also be considered as one of the greatest achievements in China’s social progress. For the Chinese family of old times rarely, if ever, possessed the valuable virtues which have sometimes been attributed to it or read into it. The Chinese family is theoretically built on the foundation of suppressing individuality for the sake of the well-being of the whole. The real basis was economic: it was always cheaper to live together and cook together in a large family than for the separate married couples to start life independently; and it was considered more economical for the incompetent members to be helped and supported by parental or ancestral charity, or by the communal income made by the more enterprising and productive brothers. But the disadvantage of such a system is very great. It is false economy to place too great a burden on the promising members of the family. Very often when a boy shows literary gifts and wins a degree in the examination, the whole family look to him for future maintenance; and sometimes a father retires from active work at forty-five when his son is capable of earning a respectable living. And this family burden not only often breaks the back of the productive young man, but also imposes an immoral obligation on him to find employment for his goodfor-nothing relations. And even today we often read advertising of public officials in the newspapers thanking their relations for recommending assistants but deeply regretting there were not enough rice bowls to go around. He concluded that the new social changes were ‘on the whole for the better’.10

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In addition to his views on politics, Hu Shi’s decision to write poetry in the vernacular led to him being compared to Dante, and he was seen as the father of a literary renaissance in China.11 He felt that the way forward for China required a literate populace, and this would be more easily achieved with a written language that was closer to the spoken form. He believed that a ‘dead language could not produce a living literature’.12 This decision was clearly an influence on Zen, who followed his lead in her short stories, the first of which was published in the Chinese Students Quarterly, which Hu Shi co-edited. His co-editor was H. C. Zen (Ren Hongjun; Wade-Giles: Jen Hung-chun), whom Sophia met in the summer of 1916 on a visit to Ithaca. Zen had just finished his degree at Cornell and was about to attend Columbia to study for a PhD.13 The pair married when they returned to China in 1920. This network of Chinese students abroad, including a magazine written by and for such readers, suggests that they were not as individually isolated as might otherwise have been assumed. Nonetheless, the strangeness of American life – and being perceived as strange within it – must have been alienating. Sophia Chen Zen’s short story, ‘One Day’, published in 1917 in the Chinese Students Quarterly, depicts life in a dormitory at an American women’s college, and explores the theme of isolation, among others. The narrative is broken into brief sections: ‘Morning’, ‘In Class’, ‘Noon’, ‘Afternoon (1)’, ‘Afternoon (2)’, ‘Afternoon (3)’, ‘Evening (1)’, ‘Evening (2)’, ‘Evening (3)’. It is written in the form of ‘transcriptions of dialogues among students in the course of one day without obvious coherent narrative structure’.14 This has been called China’s first modern short story.15 The author’s preface states: ‘As it has no real structure or purpose, it should be taken merely as a straightforward sketch and not as a story’.16 The story opens with a group of girls being woken by a bell at 7 AM. Over breakfast, one of them recounts a recent incident. Eunice: ‘All right. Last night a new student from outside the dormitories came to visit her friend. By ten o’clock she had still not returned home and her landlady got nervous and called the head dormitory warden. She said she thought the girl’s friend

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lived in Raymond House, but she didn’t know what her name was. Hearing this, the warden set out immediately to Raymond House and then, together with the house manager there, went into every student’s room asking, “Do you have a guest staying here this evening?”’ Emily laughs. ‘How amusing! And then what happened?’ Eunice: ‘They searched for an hour, woke up over one hundred students, and still couldn’t find this student. The warden then sent a number of guards into the countryside to search for her and still she was nowhere to be found. That poor warden was so nervous she stayed up all night long without going to bed . . . and can you guess where this student was in the end? This morning she calmly walked out of Josselyn House to go home and have breakfast!’ The students all laugh. Margie: ‘The warden certainly was too alarmed. What girl of eighteen or nineteen doesn’t know how to take care of herself?’17 As a relative newcomer to America, and writing for Chinese students, Zen made close observations of daily life that an American woman may not have noticed. The freedom of these young women – and their depiction of the concern and protectiveness of the college and their landladies as an impingement on their personal liberties – clearly struck Zen as significant. One of the girls, Bertha, skips meals to spend time in the library, and then comes to her friends in the evening to see if they have anything for a snack. Margie laughs. ‘Begging food again? Is an apple okay? Or would you prefer an orange?’ Bertha: ‘I’ll take both.’ Bertha eats and talks. ‘Margie, I think college life is really too difficult. This morning I received a letter from my mother;

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she said that tomorrow evening they are having another dance. Margie, do you think it’s fair that they have such a good time at home while I’m here freezing and starving to death?’ Margie: ‘I know what you mean. Last evening I asked an upperclasswoman, “What is the point of studying?” and she said, “You just arrived at college and the workload is heavy, so naturally you feel things are difficult. But you will enjoy it little by little”. Then she pulled a long face and said, “Margie, we have this opportunity and it is a pity not to know how to take advantage of it. Haven’t you seen the Chinese students here? Why do you think they leave their families and country behind to come all the way here?” I said . . .’ Bertha: ‘Maggie, pardon me for interrupting you, but what’s really curious to me is how anyone could leave their home and study abroad! I would never, ever be able to do it.’18 This story, to be read by Chinese students abroad, goes some way to perhaps explaining their American classmates’ attitudes, and the type of worldview they could encounter. It is a sharp contrast between Zen’s own struggle for education and these affluent American girls who do not appreciate their opportunities. Although chartered in 1861, Vassar did not open for students until 1865 as construction was delayed due to the American civil war. It quickly became one of the leading colleges for women in America, and during the first half of the twentieth century it prided itself on intellectual rigour and having equivalent academic requirements to Harvard and Yale.19 However, the Vassar girls depicted here sleep in, gossip and shirk homework. This view of female ‘independence’ – although under the care of the college authorities, the girls are fairly free to manage their own time and make their own choices – may have been quite unusual for Chinese readers (along with the concept of a liberal arts university just for women). Zen addresses this cultural clash directly in the narrative. In the evening, as the girls are leaving the cafeteria, Emily walks over to a Chinese student, Miss Zhang, and says, ‘Would you like to dance with me sometime?’

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Zhang: ‘I would like to very much, but I’m not a very good dancer.’ Emily: ‘Do people in China dance too?’ Zhang: ‘No’ Emily: ‘How strange! Then what do you do when you have free time? Do you like America? Are you homesick?’ Before Miss Zhang can answer, a group of students begins gathering around her in a semicircle. Bertha: ‘What do you eat at home? Do you have eggs?’ Zhang: ‘Yes, we do.’ Margie: ‘Well then you certainly must have chickens. How strange!’ Mary: ‘I have a friend whose aunt is a teacher in China; do you know her?’ Lois: ‘Last night I was reading a book about Chinese customs and it said that Chinese people like to eat dead rats. Is that true?’ Eunice: ‘What are Chinese houses like? Do you have tables like us? I heard somebody say that in China people eat, sleep, study and write on the floor. Is that right?’ Anna: ‘Do you have a brother in America? My brother knows a Chinese student named Zhang, so it goes without saying that he must be your brother.’ Miss Zhang answers their questions one after the other. Emily: ‘Do you mind us asking you to say something in Chinese?’ Zhang: ‘Not at all.’ Emily: ‘Then could you please teach me a few words of Chinese?’ Zhang: ‘All right. For example, when you greet someone you say, Nong hao la fou?’ Emily: ‘That’s easy, Nong hao la fou. What else?’ Zhang: ‘Then the other person says, Man hao, xiexie nong.’ Emily: ‘Mei hao, chacha nong, is that right?’ Zhang, laughing: ‘It’s close.’ Emily jumps up, saying loudly, ‘I can speak Chinese, listen: Nong hao la mei hao chacha nong.’20

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This passage is interesting, because the Chinese student is referred to as Miss Zhang rather than by a familiar name like the American girls. This maintains a level of distance and formality. Zen exposes some of the American misconceptions about China as well as demonstrating the possibility of cultural exchange and the role of women being defined by exposure to systems elsewhere in the world. Zen puts herself in the role of the culturally hybrid modern. There are small cultural references implying that the story might be read by those with little experience of American culture, such as an explanation that ‘People at the school usually call people “Miss” plus their surname when they aren’t familiar’.21 She is serving as an intermediary, translating American culture for Chinese readers. However, the journal in which this was published was ‘Students Abroad in America Quarterly’ edited by Hu Shi and published in USA.22 The readership would therefore have been Chinese students who were already experiencing American university life, although perhaps students still in China and about to embark on foreign study would have read the magazine in preparation. At Vassar, Zen encountered representatives of a generation of American women who were pursuing the vote and greater public participation for women. American women’s concerns – for instance the temperance movements which were gathering pace in the USA at that time – must have been a great contrast for a young woman from China. Observing women, who were relatively free to make daily choices – like the students at Vassar – although these were women from a small and privileged section of society, led her to make some sharp comparisons with the lives of Chinese women. Zen’s academic success at Vassar made the newspapers in the USA, when she was one of 28 women to make the honour list. In a newspaper from Nevada (of all places), under the headline of ‘Chinese Woman on Vassar Honour List’, she is recorded as Miss Sophia Hung-Che Chen of Soochow, China.23 One doubts whether it would have made the newswires or that the papers in Reno would otherwise have noted the Vassar honour list were it not for the presence of a Chinese woman on it. Zen offers an interesting demonstration of western-influenced Chinese feminism in her writing. ‘Let a nation produce just one

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extraordinary woman, and the great potentialities of all her sisters are proved’.24 She argues that ‘the modern Chinese woman is not going to be merely a westernised person, but is to be a woman with the stamp of individuality that she has inherited from her predecessors’.25 She saw the Modern Woman as the inheritor of the Song dynasty cainü, which meant cultured and educated woman. In one of her articles, which I discuss later at greater length, she argues that Chinese women were robbed of this inheritance – of the chance to be educated women, and that China was robbed of this group in society – by undue Indian influence on Chinese culture. Overall, she views the arrival of western influence as a chance to rehabilitate the role of Chinese women to its rightful place. A strong advocate of modernisation in China, particularly with regard to the treatment of women, in her writing she seems to have little sympathy for retaining cultural traditions. Perhaps the experience of having narrowly escaped an arranged marriage (and the resulting wrath of her father) enabled her to feel keenly for other women who were in situations not of their choosing.26 However, her strong condemnations of Chinese cultural practices she viewed as oppressive of women were matched by hesitations about women’s capability to take an equal role in society, which I discuss further. As a Chinese woman educated in the USA, Zen was well placed to critique the status of women in China from within and without. Her articles from the 1920s and 1930s reflect her sense of urgency to improve the lives of Chinese women, and also to bring their problems to the attention of the west. In 1931, Zen organised a symposium on Chinese culture with the China Institute of Pacific Relations and edited the published volume of papers presented.27 The 18 papers cover topics from religion to music and archaeology. Miss P. S. Tseng’s article on ‘The Chinese Woman, Past and Present’ offers an insight to some views on this area of history. In this, Tseng asserts that for a woman marriage is ‘her one and only destiny, her completion of life, and her meaning of existence. Without marriage she has no status of her own in home or society’.28 This summarised life for Chinese women as it had been, still was, and still should be, to some extent, in the views of many. Tseng

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demonstrates how another educated Chinese woman felt about the evolution of women’s roles. The contrast with Sophia Chen Zen’s views is clear – Tseng still regards marriage and family as paramount. Zen’s decision to include the paper in the book (indeed to include it in the symposium) is interesting; perhaps she intended to demonstrate the diversity of opinions on the issue, or possibly to provide an example of the views she felt China needed to move beyond. Tseng’s views came from her experience in education: Though there are many girls’ schools in China today, a thorough study of girls’ requirements in life is lacking. Therefore the proper kind of curricula and school life for girls have not been designed. The girls’ schools are simply replicas of boys’ schools, with a few subjects such as needlework, cookery, theoretical domestic science, etc., thrown in haphazardly. These subjects are usually given an insignificant position and allowed the minimum of time, often neglected by teachers and despised by students. Thus the girls leave school without any idea of homemaking. Moreover, they are apt to develop a wrong notion of the equality of the sexes. Instead of realising that true equality lies in each developing along its own line, they try to approximate the male standard of thought and life, thus turning themselves into pseudo-males. This is a serious problem indeed, and it can only be solved by women themselves.29 Tseng concluded, ‘. . . for the modern Chinese woman, let her freedom be restrained by self-control, her self-realisation be coupled with selfsacrifice, and her individualism be circumscribed with family duty. Such is our new ideal of womanhood, and to realise this is our supreme problem’.30 She obviously shared Zen’s anxieties about the choices offered by modernity to China’s women, and the risk of ‘too much, too soon’, but their suggested solutions were very different. This idea of concern at modernity’s too hasty arrival recurs in Zen’s writing and shows her ambivalence about adopting western (or specifically American) culture in China. She discussed this in public lectures, such as one in Canada in 1933, when she spoke on the problems

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of western modernity in China. The Winnipeg Free Press described her visit and quoted from her speech: American moving pictures are doing harm in China, socially, for they draw a distorted picture of American life, and as social life in China is something new for which the older generations have no example, the young people take their models from the actors they see depicted on the screen’, said Mrs. Sophia Chen-Zen, first woman professor of the national university, Peiping, in addressing members of the University Women’s club.31 The reporter’s description of her offers a relevant detail: ‘the speaker, who in her native costume of cinnamon brown brocaded satin, and standing on tiny little feet, made a fascinating picture for the large number of members who attended’. This is the only reference I have found that suggests Zen had bound feet; in none of her writings I have come across does she refer to footbinding from personal experience, even when arguing vehemently against it. It is also interesting to note that when describing (and criticising) Chinese practices, Zen uses formulations such as ‘it must seem curious to us’32 (emphasis mine), grouping herself in the collective first person with the (western) readers of her articles. She is on the side of modernity and criticising her backwards compatriots from the vantage point of a westerner. Her article, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World,’ published in Pacific Affairs in 1929, is explicitly aimed at ‘western readers’.33 She draws direct comparison to women in the west, and seems to be justifying China’s achievements in equality to a readership who may have assumed that Chinese women all faced oppression: ‘We all know with what price did our sisters in the western nations buy their political rights, but do my readers know what the Chinese women have done in this respect?’34 She goes on to explain that in ‘some of the southern and central provinces’, women have equal rights to men and serve as judges, and can hold seats on high councils. She presents this as a result of having shared with men the responsibility of China’s reconstruction after 1911, and that this ‘cooperation’ was not based on anticipated reward of greater rights or freedoms. This idea

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was that women’s rights could be obtained through cooperation with men rather than struggle against them, and indeed that such rights would not need to be demanded but would come apparently naturally through willingness to participate in ‘new movements’, political, intellectual, and social. This theory begs the question of social structures allowing women to participate, as well as women’s willingness to do so. Her conception is clearly that of the New Woman rather than the Modern Girl. Even as she lauded women’s new involvement in politics, in a later article Zen equivocated: ‘a high sense of duty as well as a noble esteem of one’s mission are necessary conditions if this right is to transform a Chinese woman into a great statesman instead of turning her into an ugly politician of dubious character, as many politicians are all the world over, and as some women politicians in China have already proved to be capable of becoming’.35 This apparent hesitation about empowering women, which she demonstrates again with regard to money (see below), shows doubts about adopting western culture or modernity wholesale for Chinese women. It also hints at the feeling expressed by some feminists elsewhere that women have greater qualities than men, and that fulfilling the traditional roles of men can ‘reduce’ them to (negative) ‘male’ behaviour. Sophia Chen Zen claimed that ‘the line of difference between the western and eastern civilisations is rather horizontal, dividing up time, than vertical, dividing up space, and what China actually needs is not so much a westernisation as a modernisation of her people’.36 This is a fine line of distinction that is regularly blurred in Zen’s writing. The suggestion is therefore that western societies simply represent a later – and inevitable – stage of development than China. This could further be seen as implying that modernity in the western model was a natural development of human nature, rather than a culturally and temporally specific concept. Zen sees this ‘modernisation’ as an inevitable result of industrialisation, bound to have on China the same effects as it had in Europe, and ‘there is no escape, especially as the rapid transformation of the means of communication has made it impossible for any country in the world to remain isolated, not only physically but also in the cultural sense’.37

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In this sense, ‘modernisation’ is an external force, transcending distinctions of western or eastern. She goes on to suggest that, ‘While few Chinese would admit that Chinese culture on the whole is inferior to the modern culture from the West, every deepthinking [sic] Chinese is firmly convinced of the fact that the modern western civilisation contains main elements which the old Chinese culture lacks and which are essential for the rejuvenation of the nation’.38 Her use of the term ‘admit’ implies that perhaps western superiority is a given, and it is Chinese stubbornness not to acknowledge this. In The Influences of Foreign Cultures on the Chinese Woman (1934), Zen discusses the effects of Indian and western culture on China. The first – and in her view, wholly negative – influence came from India. Two of the most deadly weapons for the oppression of a woman in China were either elaborated or had their origin in the Sung dynasty, and they have remained in power until recent times. I mean the custom of footbinding and the moral philosophy that condemns the marriage of widows.39 Her implication to India of blame for this state is not entirely direct; rather she suggests that it was a China in thrall to Indian anti-female influences that was susceptible to further female-repressing customs. While the custom of footbinding was not imported from India, no enlightened society could ever have tolerated a custom such as this, and without the preparation of that mental background and social environment which regarded a woman as a necessary evil, whose presence was both degrading and dangerous to men, a custom like this would have been cut dead in its bud. [. . .] It is therefore that particular mental background under the influence of the Indian attitude toward women that made it possible for this torture of womankind to develop and flourish for almost a thousand years.40 She goes on to discuss the stigma of widow remarriage, or parapurva in the Indian scriptures, and the importation of this attitude to China,

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with the pejorative term ‘twice-married woman’.41 She believed that ‘the custom of forbidding widows to marry doubtless had its origin in Indian philosophy, as no disgrace had ever attached to a Chinese woman who married a second time, either through divorce or through the death of her husband, before the Sung dynasty’.42 Having deemed the ‘first of the two great cultures that ever disturbed Chinese life and custom had been most detrimental to our womankind’, she turns to the second, ‘brought by missionaries and merchants from America and Europe’. On western influence her views are more favourable: ‘for all the wrongs that western culture might have done to China, one thing alone would have redeemed them, and that is, the conviction that their early missionaries aroused in the Chinese minds that the practice of footbinding was absurd and wrong’.43 Exposure to western attitudes also tempered views on remarriage for women. The strong conviction that a remarried woman deserved only contempt in respectful circles in China received its first shock, not through the preaching of missionaries, who, being strictly moralistic in those days, perhaps wished to remain on good terms with a custom that upheld chastity, even at the expense of humanity, but through comparison with the Western custom, which could respect a woman who had married a second husband.44 Reflecting on ancient (pre-Indian influence, in her thesis) Chinese culture, she saw women having a greater role in society. Chinese women of the ‘literati class’ were educated in the ‘“Culture of Four Arts”, namely, music, chess, calligraphy, and painting.’ These skills, along with a ‘basic education in literature and poetry . . . would enable a woman to receive the honourable title of ts’ai-nü, [cainü] that is, a talented or accomplished lady’.45 As already discussed, Zen blamed Indian influence for the decline of this class of women in society, and the lack of continuing education for women. By contrast, she links the rise of education for women in the west to the Industrial Revolution, and ‘as it had made education a thing of

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democracy, extending to the dark region of that great mass of womankind, and as it had prepared a woman to lead the life of an independent individual, so has it done the same to the Chinese woman’. Here, as with modernity, education is a force of industrialisation without cultural context. Zen discusses the similarity between women in China and the west, arguing that recognising the similarities should ‘make us feel closer together, we from China and we from the west, as well as making us more sympathetic and understanding in our efforts to solve our somewhat similar problems, which after all are caused by the same fundamental force?’ 46 In this, as in the equivocating article discussed above, she puts herself on both sides of the fence, as it were: ‘we’ from China and ‘we’ from the west. The fundamental force causing all the problems is presumably men, and she is speaking for sisterly solidarity transcending cultural differences. She argues that western culture has restored rights and attitudes that Chinese women had prior to the arrival of Indian influence. The independent spirit that was the pride of the Chinese woman in society and at home in the old days has now become the chief weapon with which she is transforming herself into an independent individual, a specimen so rare in other Oriental countries; and a ts ai-nü [cainü] of the Four Arts that was only a decoration of culture is now being transformed into an international scholar, a medical doctor, a great musician, an educator, a social reformer, and whatnot.47 Having studied in the USA she had obviously experienced the benefits of a level of education denied to most Chinese women. This insight into western culture enabled her to see some of its flaws as well as its qualities. While there is no lack of hypocrites among the Western men, and while their standard of morality is far from being single, one thing in their life at least has aroused the curiosity of men and the envy of women in China, namely, the institution of

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monogamy, and the entire absence of concubinage. With the aid of travelling and studying the Chinese students who thus come into close contact with the life of European and American women, who are already emancipated, though still in an incomplete form, the eyes of a Chinese woman begin to open more and more widely, until she decides that concubinage and double morality are to go forever’.48 A related concern to which she returns is the desire of young people in China for free choice of marriage partners. This problem is, she asserts, not as simple as it seems to westerners. Further, . . . now the young men and women in China are being told that what they have been struggling for is not all, and that the young men and women in Europe and America are now demanding the right to love and marry without the intervention of God or law or the necessity of social sanction. Can we not easily see what a fine moral mess the young people in China are finding themselves in, especially as virginity before marriage and chastity afterwards have been considered paramount virtues for a woman in China? ‘To die by starvation is a small matter, to lose one’s chastity is a great one,’ thus have the Chinese men commanded their women, and thus have the Chinese women obeyed the command for over eight hundred years.49 Her mixed feelings on this issue are interesting, in that she is concerned by the social chaos that free love (whether this be cohabitation without marriage, or general promiscuity) could bring rather than the outright hypocrisy and sexism in the situation she described in which chastity was demanded by men, of women, not the other way around. Free choice of marriage partner could be argued a basic human right. Whether free love is part of ‘modernity’ and should be a Modern Woman’s expectation is a slightly different issue. This is worth contrasting with a main issue for Japanese women, which according to feminist campaigns was demanding chastity in marriage from men but ending up in concubinage.

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Zen also examines to the right to inherit property and money, which European and American women ‘did not acquire until the latter part of the last century. This right, however, seems to me to be only a mixed blessing, as it will also encourage the possessive instinct in a human being and may lead to very ugly consequences’.50 This is particularly curious, as despite her general criticism of Chinese culture and treatment of women, she finds beneficial attributes in elements such as this. The idea that access to money might bring out venality in women is somewhat patronising. If her goal is for women to reach their full potential, as she repeatedly claims throughout her work, arguing for continuing to limit women’s control of property is an odd stance to take. Her unease at balancing her campaign for ‘modernity’ and ‘westernisation’ in the treatment of women with sympathy for some of China’s traditions can be seen elsewhere too. She discusses the influence of the family in China, with filial obligations, such that ‘when a conflict arises between a man’s duty as a son or a brother and his love for his wife, it is always the latter that must be sacrificed’. Zen saw this as a contrast with the western nuclear family model, and the culture in which loyalty to one’s spouse takes priority over other relationships. This may partly be the result of Christian marriage custom. It is worth considering, as she does not clarify here, the idea that loyalty to one’s parents only trumps loyalty to one’s wife. For women, loyalty to their own parents was trumped by loyalty to their husband and his family. Without teasing this element out, she finds the result (of the ‘filiality first’ philosophy) to be both unfortunate and fortunate. Fortunate, because it helps to foster a spirit of self-sacrifice and self-abnegation, which has been so characteristic of Chinese women that the annals of Chinese womanhood are illuminated with a peculiarly beautiful light of noble deeds and thoughts that temporarily closes our eyes to the misery and suffering of our bygone sisters. Unfortunate, because this moral demand on women for sacrifice is so great, so imperative and so mortifying that it reduces the lot of a woman to that of a mere moral slave: she may be patient, but she could

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never enjoy life; she may be willing to suffer, but she could never be happy; she may swallow the tears and try to smile, but she could never produce genuine laughter. And when the women of a nation are unhappy, not only as individuals, but also as mothers and wives, the whole nation cannot be happy.51 Sophia Chen Zen’s writing offers a view from one perspective of China’s women at a crossroads, even as tensions between the Modern Girl and the New Woman continued. In many ways embodying the New Woman herself, she does not discuss this difference, referring generally to Chinese women as a whole rather than specific groups of them. However, as she herself admitted, her educational background made her unusual. As she wrote in ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education’, she was the first female in her family to go to school. She claims she ‘escaped a fate as the wife of a ministerial candidate and was able to study abroad because of my diligence in going to school’.52 She credits her uncle, Chuang Szu-chien, for encouraging in her this ambition, and for teaching her himself before sending her to school as a teenager. He held a government post and ‘had many opportunities to come into contact with European and American culture, especially its medicine. He had great admiration for western science and western medicine, and was most impressed by the American women who had come to serve in China’. He told her about western hospitals and schools, and ‘life in a modern culture’. His advice to her was ‘You should learn from these independent Western women’.53 When she asked him how he knew so much about the world, he replied ‘My knowledge is nothing compared to that of educated people in Europe and America’.54 Even at this early age she was being encouraged to believe that knowledge could – should – be gained from international engagement. When she was thirteen, her father was posted to work in an isolated area in the southwest. Zen begged her parents to instead send her to live with her uncle and aunt in Canton, so she could attend school. She found soon after arrival that she was too young to attend medical school as she had hoped, and also she didn’t speak Cantonese, which was required.55 Her uncle hired private tutors for her, and continued to teach her himself. After a year, she went to Shanghai to attend the

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‘Patriotic Girls’ School’.56 She claims ‘I learned absolutely nothing in my three years at this school, except for English’.57 This ability was later crucial in allowing her to study first at the Tsing Hua Xuetang (now Tsinghua University), and later in America. Her book, Xiyangshi (Western History) was published in 1926, with a new edition in 1932, and went through several printings.58 Just as she wanted her American readers to understand the situation for women in China, she wanted Chinese people to learn more about the west: not just contemporary western culture but how the west had developed modern societies. Her writing demonstrates her keenness to see the circumstances of Chinese women change. Her early decision to return to China to teach, rather than stay in Chicago, suggests a strong sense of social responsibility. By speaking to women’s groups in other countries, Zen also demonstrated a belief in an international public sphere, and a shared concerned for women’s rights. As a self-defined bi-cultural hybrid, she pushed for improvement in the status of China’s women without abandoning the positive elements of Chinese culture.

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CAROLINE BACHE MC M AHON (1899 –1950)

Caroline Bache McMahon was an American who spent fourteen years in Japan during the 1920s and 1930s, working for the United States Military Intelligence Division. As a single woman, she seemed to represent foreign ideas on women’s independence; this attracted some interest and surprise from tradesmen and the local police. Her own single status also influenced how she dealt with and commented on women around her. She could speak Japanese and was thus able to form friendships in the local community and gain some insight into social attitudes. She shared these insights not only with her employers, but in the articles she wrote for the American press. She had assumed the pen-name of Bache (it was her middle name, and her mother’s maiden name) when she began publishing her short stories from Japan.1 She was keen to convey to her American readers that Japan could not be simply summarised by stereotypes, as a land of chrysanthemum and lanterns. Her book, Paradox Isle, begins with a description of the festival of the dead at a Buddhist temple: Midnight was closing in upon the temple grove as the dancers, worn with three days of worship and merrymaking, ceased their posturing and the clamour of drums and flutes lapsed into silence. It was my first sight of this midsummer festival, and reluctantly I followed my companions from the grove. We took the short way home that led us though the grounds of the Rinnoji Monastery, through a garden that looked mysterious in the moonlight and a little withdrawn, as though it resented

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intruders during these quiet hours, after giving of itself so generously to the day.2 While there, she looks through the window and sees a monk bent over his work and assumes he is doing calligraphy, until she hears the sound of the typewriter he is using. This ends her search for the ‘real Japan’ as the country is too full of paradox.3 The review of Paradox Isle in the New York Times began, ‘Carrie M’Mahon has written a book about the Japanese. She is known as Carol Bache to the readers of the Atlantic Monthly, as Carrie MacMahon [sic] to the even wider circle of Americans and Europeans who knew her in Tokyo. Both groups will be happy to be told that the book is a good one’.4 According to the book jacket, ‘The original manuscript of Paradox Isle was smuggled out of Japan in the last diplomatic pouch to leave Tokyo in November 1941. It never reached the United States, however, for it was burned in the tunnels of Corregidor before the surrender of that fortress’. McMahon herself reviewed books on Japan for publications including the Far Eastern Survey and the Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as writing her own articles. Although her book was published after her return to the USA, it was compiled while she was living in Japan and some of its materials were published as magazine stories at the time (for example, the account of a burglar appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in February, 1934). The book jacket gives further background to the manuscript: ‘At about the same time, Miss Bache sailed from Japan aboard the Tatsuta Maru, only to be turned back in mid-ocean on December 7. She returned to Yokohama, where she spent the next six months “scrubbing floors and making beds” in an internment camp. After her release and exchange to the United States in 1942, Miss Bache rewrote this book from memory and gave it heightened interest through additional knowledge and understanding gained by her six months of internment in what was by then an openly hostile country’.5 In fact, the situation following Pearl Harbour is limited to the final chapter, which begins, ‘Not until we arrived at the American Embassy on the morning of December 8th did most of us dream we were actually at war

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with Japan’.6 However, she does not seem to have allowed her wartime experiences to retrospectively colour her account of life in Japan in the preceding years. The review article from the Washington Post is accompanied by a photo of McMahon obviously from the same session as the photo on her book jacket, but not cropped so we can see the setting (the main indication that it is not the same picture is that the dog on her lap has shifted position). According to the caption, it was taken in her Tokyo home. She is sitting on a low bench before a window, wearing a high-necked dress with a lace collar and a string of pearls. In the background is a well-stocked bookcase. It is very much the pose of the expatriate white woman, who has not adapted to local customs of dress or housing. McMahon’s observations of this society, as an outsider – but one tasked with learning as much as possible about local customs – offer another perspective on the role of women. Her illustration of Japan is nuanced, showing regional and social variety. Nor is she a cheerleader for westernisation, as demonstrated by this account of an incident she observed in the street: ‘Western civilisation, represented by our rickety motor bus, drew up obediently with screeching brakes to give a gold encrusted shrine drawn by white oxen the right of way’.7 This idea of ‘civilisation’ as a disruptive western intrusion into an otherwise harmonious Asian world is another hesitation felt by western observers of the approach of modernity. But this scene deftly demonstrates cultural negotiation, in that traditional customs were still being practiced, respected and given precedence. The attitude that long-term foreign residents in Asia felt towards the westernisation they saw in societal change can be interpreted in different ways. Like Pearl Buck, some feared for the results on local people. However, there can also be traced a thread of selfishness in the protectiveness that outsiders felt. In those who saw certain locations and communities as ‘unspoilt’, the urge was to prevent the arrival of more change that would destroy the atmosphere that had attracted them. McMahon observed ‘Japanese schoolgirls in middy blouses and serge skirts, their gold teeth and spectacles flashing in the sunlight.

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They straggled by in a thick cloud of dust scuffed up by their illfitting shoes, and their voices rose dutifully above the dwindling bellow of the conch shells in a familiar refrain’.8 In the early twentieth century, the schoolgirl became one of the visual motifs of Japanese modernity. The Girls’ Higher School Order of 1899 (which mandated a high school for girls in each prefecture) had seen a rise in the number of girls attending high schools, although they were largely from affluent backgrounds, whose families could afford the fees.9 Attending high school brought with it the chance for girls to mix with classmates from elsewhere in the country, as the daughters of wealthy families from other regions were sent to school in Tokyo where they mixed with native Tokyoites. School also afforded girls new opportunities to move in public spheres that had previously been off-limits. The creation of a ‘schoolgirl culture’ was one effect; another was that scandal stories of degenerate schoolgirls (daraku jogakusei) and their wicked ways were in the newspapers from the early 1900s onwards.10 McMahon mentioned the girls’ voices, and according to Miyako Inoue, women became participants in auditory urban streetscapes in Japan, this making them modern agents, that their voices were heard outside the home.11 McMahon was also interested in the idea of society in Japan moving at a different pace to that in America: Time means nothing to most Japanese because they can, and do, sleep at all hours and in any place when the urge overtakes them. In trains they weave tipsily back and forth to collapse with their heads resting on some stranger’s shoulder. They squat down on a crowded street for a few moments, creating a small islet of repose in the midst of traffic; and I have seen errand boys standing beside their bicycles, sleeping soundly with their heads on the handlebars, using folded arms for a pillow.12 Throughout, McMahon acknowledges the cultural differences that make understanding the Japanese difficult for outsiders. Her occasional exasperation shows how she struggled at times to make sense of the events she saw around her, but may also reflect the fact that she was writing for American audiences, and therefore mediating her

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experiences for them, by expressing the kind of response they would expect. While she tried to dispel simplistic views of the Japanese, she, as the American observer, is the focal point, against whose ‘normality’ Japanese behaviour is contrasted. Foreigners who have elected to adopt the life and civilisation of Japan, even to native dress and food, are never quite at home. There is always an anxious, self-conscious air about them; none of the ease that comes from a common sense of values, nor the quick, careless give and take that makes for real fellowship.13 There is a very limited catalogue of women’s travel narratives of interwar Japan in English, although there were unprecedented numbers of visitors at this time, particularly encouraged by the Japanese government tourist board. However, their visits tended to be strictly chaperoned by official guides.14 Thus, older books such as Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880) have tended to overshadow writing from the Taisho period for research on female visitors to Japan. McMahon herself discussed the flaws she saw in travel writing on Japan: ‘Many foreign travellers . . . expressed their expectations of an exotic Orient while writing disparaging accounts of their experiences that expressed only patronising contempt for the country’s backwardness’.15 Changing expectations and the occasional surprising incident of ‘cultural encounter’ as western influences appeared unexpectedly in Japanese contexts also fascinated her. Once an imperial progress was actually halted and the stilted circumstance dissolved in comedy, but the royalties in question were Prince and Princess Chichibu and not the Emperor. They were passing by in the customary oppressive silence when the air was rent by two tall American boys standing in the front rank of the crowd. ‘Hi, Setsuko!’ they bellowed. ‘Howsa girl?’ It was so unexpected that they managed to wave a greeting to their schoolmate before the paralysed police fell on them.

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Princess Chichibu stood up impulsively. The impious voices recalled her happy years at the Friends’ School in Washington and she turned with an appealing gesture to the Prince beside her. Grinning broadly, he halted the procession and had the culprits brought to the car where the police released their hold with obvious reluctance. The crowd looked on horrified while greetings were exchanged, and Prince Chichibu insisted that the boys dine with them informally that evening so that his wife might hear the latest news of her classmates. ‘Until tonight then –‘ and ‘Be seein’ you, Setsuko!’ The police fell back, the limousine resumed its interrupted journey, and the boys drifted off, oblivious alike to the malignant glances of the police and the enormity of their conduct. The crowd dispersed with its usual air of sober preoccupation, the older people murmuring in deep disapproval: ‘The tomboy princess. What will she do next, I wonder’.16 Princess Chichibu, born Matsudaira Setsuko in 1909, was the daughter of a diplomat. She was born in England and educated at the Sidwell Friends School, a Quaker private school in Washington, DC. On 28 September 1928, she married HIH Prince Chichibu and she was created Princess Chichibu. Her breaking with Imperial protocol as in this example, attributed to her western upbringing, suggests that she was a rebel against tradition. Her autobiography details her Anglophile lifestyle and the view – shared with her husband – that Japan needed to modernise on western lines.17 But of course it was only women of the elite who had such opportunities. Western influence, as McMahon saw it, cut both ways in its effects on Japan, particularly evangelical Christianity. ‘Nothing short of a Japanese Methodist landlord, determined to run my house on strictly Wesleyan principles, could have hounded me out of my settled abode and into a new one, or my amah into her Japanese shotgun wedding and her subsequent role of honest woman’.18 She recounted this incident,

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which clearly to her was extraordinary, with sympathy for the young woman and mild amusement that anyone could be offended by the situation. ‘It was the sort of thing that could never have happened at home, but out there at the ends of the earth and within the confines of an island, we were more apt to lose our sense of perspective’.19 The fact that McMahon was an employee of the American government made the situation some kind of potential international incident. It was just too, too unfortunate, said the fretful young diplomat who relayed to me the scandalised protest of my landlord against the unseemly affair. Although the principals were of no social importance whatever, he added hastily, my landlord happened to be a high-ranking admiral in the Japanese navy, aide to Prince Takamatsu, and a nephew of the Japanese ambassador in Washington.20 Nobu, McMahon’s maid, was summoned by the diplomat to be questioned. I watched with no little amusement what the sight of that huge, unromantic creature did to the earnest young man’s aplomb. He rallied, however, and repeated the admiral’s arraignment in his meticulous Japanese, to which Nobu listened with polite attention and quite obvious perplexity. She admitted having a lover with the utmost simplicity, but perceiving no connection whatever between a natural desire and moral lapse, she could see no necessity to legalise it. This was her first encounter with our Western concept of sin and she was genuinely puzzled, evidently regarding sex matters with the untroubled reasonableness of her race. It was only when she realised that her humble romance was inconveniencing someone that the young man began to make headway. Ah, that was indeed reprehensible, it was labelled as such in her code, and she flushed scarlet with shame and remorse. As soon as she grasped that aspect, she capitulated eagerly.21

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This hints at the idea of public shame and being seen as selfish as major impediments to women adopting the lifestyles they choose, within a social order that seemed to permit greater sexual liberty than was the case in America. McMahon herself was not in the least concerned by her maid’s situation. I told her to marry or not as she pleased, but to be certain that she wanted to marry Tanaka before she made any promises . . . She did not know Tanaka’s ‘spirit’ as well as she might, but at least she knew him by sight, and that was more than the average Japanese bride had any right to expect.22 McMahon clearly disdained the custom of arranged marriage, and women do not escape her occasional criticism: ‘The women’s vacuous meekness, which is difficult to cope with at times’.23 Her experiences with local authorities seem to reflect a general trend among foreigners resident in Japan. A letter was published in the 30 January 1919 edition of the Japan Chronicle from ‘A Woman’ complaining of having been assaulted (hit) by a rickshaw driver demanding money over and above the agreed fare, saying that this had happened to her several times, and also referring in passing to a previous purse snatching. The correspondent complains about the police being locked in their boxes rather than patrolling the streets. I know that women are not respected in this country, and to that I have nothing to say, knowing how much they are thought of and respected in my own country, but it seems to me that any man loses his self-respect when he thinks it worth while to be discourteous to women, and I cannot think that Japan can ever become a great nation in the sense that other countries are great, while the men of the country hold the attitude they do towards women in general.24 This would have tapped straight into the Japanese national selfconsciousness about national esteem in the eyes of the world, particularly relating to the status and role of women, this is a recurring theme in commentary on women from Japanese authors and outside

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observers. The rickshaw story is referred to in an editorial in the same paper: the complaint made by a correspondent in another column is one that will be echoed by many foreign ladies. Indeed, ladies say they are afraid nowadays to take a rickisha [sic] owing to the extortion of the men and the threats they use if their demand is not at once complied with. According to the article, ‘Women are more often fixed upon as victims than men, as the latter have an unpleasant habit of putting their threats of a report to the police into execution’.25 The original correspondent bore this out, saying she was too busy to deal with police bureaucracy, asking her questions about her own details – hair and eye colour, etc. – which she had had to go through when reporting the purse theft. The reference to hair and eye colour tends to confirm that she is a foreigner resident in Japan. Her position as a foreigner also made her more of a target for attack – it is not suggested that Japanese women frequently encountered such treatment. Negative experiences with the police were part of general public experience – at least among foreign residents: ‘In reality, they [the police] had little to learn even from the Gestapo, having practically perfected a system of inhuman treatment for their own people that has been a scandal and a hissing among the Europeans living in their country for many years’.26 McMahon commented that ‘On the broad modern thoroughfares the police are everywhere directing the traffic, while shifty-eyed plain clothes men mingle with the crowds and hang about cafés, hot on the trail of ‘dangerous thoughts’.27 The role of cafés as zones for police surveillance for potential sedition is one way in which they represented transgressive modernity. Police repression of such establishments increased in the 1920s and 1930s.28 The changing role of the cafe waitress I discuss further in the chapter on Uno Chiyo. McMahon also observed the relationship between women and the law in this anecdote: Only twice during the years I lived in Japan have I seen the law openly defied, and both times the offender was a woman. An

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old woman, to be sure, a grandmother with white hair cropped short like a boy’s who, though bent and doddering, paddles along with vengeful obstinacy on every family outing, as though determined to get something of her own back after a youth of rigid self-denial. Passing the public bathhouse one summer day I saw the local gendarme gazing mournfully at his white trousers which were soaked and soiled beyond repair and making futile attempts to dry his coat with a cotton handkerchief. I stopped to sympathise and inquired what had happened to him, had he fallen in the bath? ‘Oni baba – old hellcats’ he exclaimed with fervent emphasis, glowering at two frail old women who had just emerged and were tottering up the hill together cackling maliciously. ‘It is such as they make a policeman’s life so difficult.’ They had nearly wrecked the bathhouse, he explained, fighting like tigers because one of them had turned on the cold water tap. They had splashed each other so viciously that all the peaceful non-combatants had been driven from the tub; then they had hurled the rinsing buckets back and forth, breaking the windows, splintering the electric lights with reckless abandon. The proprietor, after a vain attempt to interfere, had sent for the police. As the young policeman ruefully explained, ‘As soon as I came in they turned on me together. Now condescend to look at the uniform that should last me for a week. No one willingly tackles an old woman. Our hearts become small when we are sent to face one down’.29 This idea of older Japanese women taking advantage of their status in a gerontocracy (and perhaps widowhood) to get away with such antics denied them in their youth is amusing and intriguing. Attitudes to older women – particularly the visual cues of age in hair colour – were also picked up on by McMahon. On the stage, the distinguishing mark of a ghost or a fiend is a grey or white wig, as most Japanese, men and women alike, keep

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their hair black with camellia oil dye till the day of their deaths. I wondered if this traditional make-up for a devil might not account for the fear a grey-haired foreign woman seems to inspire among the more ignorant Japanese. Our legendary matron is an object of deference and solicitude, and I have observed with astonishment that, in a country where age is universally venerated, a woman with grey hair is regarded with fear and repulsion. Until I had seen a few ghost plays and demon dances I attributed this to the fact that their own grandmothers, more often than not, are perfect tartars. I asked some Japanese friends what they thought of my new theory, and after a moment of discomfort, which a new idea always induces, and another for careful consideration, they laughed and admitted that it had never occurred to them but might easily be so.30 Mutual cultural misunderstandings form many of McMahon’s observations, and one of the most memorable – and perhaps insightful – is her account of meeting Miss Penny, an English missionary, on the way to Japan. This lady shared a cabin with McMahon on a journey from China. Miss Penny had recently visited her brothers, rubber planters in Ceylon, to ask them for ‘money to finance a great undertaking’. It was the first time she had left Japan in many years, and she explained: It was quite an experience for me to be in a large family of young people – English girls and boys, I mean . . . I was horrified to hear the stories the young people told, the topics they discussed in mixed company. I give you my word! The jokes they bandied about, under the impression that such vulgarity was humorous – I shall be thankful to get back among the clean-minded, decorous Japanese, I can tell you.31 Miss Penny’s great undertaking was the spread of Christianity in Japan. She hoped that her ‘model Christian’, Baron Kimura, would lead this crusade. After they returned to Japan, she invited McMahon to accompany her on a visit to Baron Kimura and his family. Miss Penny assured her, ‘You’ll find these people exactly like any Christian

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family of their class in your country or mine’.32 When they arrived at the Baron’s house, It was indeed a delightful family that made us welcome presently. The Baron, very dignified in his robes of lustreless black silk, came out and led us into the living room where his pretty daughters in their bright kimono were grouped about their mother like some particularly pleasing flower arrangement. ‘We wear our native dress in our Japanese house,’ the host explained in his formal idiomatic English, ‘for the sake of harmony, you know.’ We sat on cushions around a low table of dark shitan wood and were given a variety of sweet cakes with our tea which was clear, hot and very refreshing. The Baron had travelled extensively, knew both London and New York and we talked easily, without the long, hollow silences which usually blight any association with the Japanese. And Miss Penny was enjoying her hour of triumph. Two red spots burned on her cheekbones and at some shrewd comment of the Baron’s about a modern playwright, the look she shot me was almost sinful in its pride. ‘You will think me very smallbrow,’ he was saying smilingly, ‘but I like best of all the Marx Brothers. They make me laugh so much.’ He almost choked in his attempt to describe their antics for Miss Penny’s benefit. ‘I always say, if I can laugh with you then I am truly one of you. Do you not think?’ We hastened to agree that laughter was indeed a proof of perfect understanding, being the first thing to suffer when transplanted from its native soil. ‘And your daughters,’ I suggested. ‘Do they enjoy the foreign plays and movies as much as you do?’ ‘Ha! A very different matter.’ His thin, high-bred face took on a look of most forbidding sternness. ‘My daughters have never seen a foreign film, and never will as long as they are in my house.

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Such degrading emphasis on sex, I do not condone. They have not been exposed to such contamination’.33 He later offers to show McMahon and Miss Penny his warai e. I asked what warai e might be, and from a concealed cupboard he took a flat book bound in heavenly brocade. ‘Funny pictures you call them,’ he said. ‘And these are a family treasure – two hundred thirty-eight years old.’ He turned the book so I would open it correctly and handed it to me with a bow, his fine face beaming in anticipation of the treat in store for me. I laid the book on the table so everyone could share the fun, opened it eagerly and gazed transfixed at the most indecent picture I had ever seen. The shock was so great that my first impulse was to laugh, but gulping it down, I hastily turned the page, thinking there must be some mistake. The next picture was worse than the first, if such a thing were possible, and glancing wildly at Miss Penny for my cue, I found her looking at her Christian leader with an expression of such malignant hatred that her face was quite transformed. But that good man was innocently wiping tears of mirth from his eyes with a fine silk handkerchief; the children looked and fell back tittering, even their mother, who up to now had been a dim gray shadow in the background, was politely concealing her amusement with her kimono sleeve.34 Such books were produced in large numbers during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. ‘Images of sexual intercourse in whatever combination (male-female, male-male, and threesomes being the most common) were called makura-e (pillow pictures) or warai-e (laughing pictures).’35 The term ‘laughing pictures’ becomes less innocuous when it is pointed out that in this context ‘laughter’ meant masturbation.36 The Baron mentioned that these works were antiques; by the Meiji period this kind of art had been outlawed. Such prints from the Edo period reflect Japanese print culture, with the woodblock techniques

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making reproductions inexpensive and thus popular. This contrasting and conflicting attitude towards sexual imagery in Japan and the west reflects the cultures’ different emphases on defining morality; the Baron deems American cinema a corrupting influence on his daughters but is happy for them to see explicit sexual illustrations. Miss Penny and McMahon, in common with current opinion in Britain and America, would not find the Marx Brothers offensive but were shocked by the warai e. Timon Screech has explored the accessibility of such pillow book images to women, suggesting that they were used partly for sex education for upper class young women, and that (before the Meiji crackdown) they were widely available.37 This is worth noting, as in Europe and America, pornography has primarily been seen as entertainment for men, and a zone of popular culture to which ‘respectable’ women have been denied access. McMahon’s book seems to have been commissioned by Alfred A. Knopf, rather than submitted speculatively. When she submitted the manuscript, the editors reported their responses, and these can be seen as a reflection of American reader opinion. Carrie Macmahon [sic], on whose track I was put by Byas,38 officially was supposed to be a clerk of the Navy attached to our Tokio [sic] embassy. Actually her job was to get to know the common people of Japan as well as possible – their way of living, their habits, their attitudes – and to report thereon. This is, in effect, a sort of cultural, or at least non-military, espionage.39 One reader particularly noted the Miss Penny incident, ‘an unforgettable portrait of a grim little British female missionary, her professional attitude towards the Japanese, her intrinsic, quite contradictory feeling about them’.40 By the time the book appeared, McMahon was living in Washington DC.41 She was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 1945, but did not publish anything further before her death in 1950. Her planned novel – detailed in her application for the Guggenheim fellowship – was based on ‘the problem of a Japanese-born American girl whose loyalty is divided between Japan,

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the land of her birth and the United States, which she has never seen. The outbreak of war between the two countries puts an end to her conflict, providing a climax which proves to herself where here deepest, instinctive allegiance lies’.42 How McMahon planned to answer this question we cannot be sure, but the fact that she was focused on the idea of cultural hybridity and conflicted loyalties relates to the idea of hybrid modernity, particularly that demonstrated by Lilian Miller. McMahon’s writing is useful for what can be gleaned about her view of the Modern Woman in Japan. Her book reflects little of her personal performance as a Modern Woman, although it hints at her character as a liberal-minded, cosmopolitan woman living an independent life in Japan. Her professional role, in cultural espionage (against an – at the time – friendly state) put her in a unique position to describe what she saw in social interaction and expectations of women in Japan. Having titled her book Paradox Isle it is only fitting that her observations are full of contradictions, and present the role of women in Japan – a society in flux and affected by various outside influences – as impossible to summarise or prescribe.

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LILIAN M AY MILLER (1895–1943)

Lilian May Miller was born in Japan in 1895, the daughter of an American diplomat. She grew up in Japan until her family moved to Washington while she was in her teens. She attended Vassar, and after graduating returned to live in Asia, dividing her time between Tokyo and her father’s new posting in Korea. As a young woman, she found success as an artist, creating woodcut prints in Japanese style. After the outbreak of World War II, Miller lived in Hawaii until her death from cancer in 1943. Miller was an artist who gained some fame in her lifetime, as newspaper coverage of her exhibitions demonstrates. However, a number of factors, including her untimely death, and her decision to destroy a large number of her works after the attack on Pearl Harbour (which led her to feel betrayed by Japan), mean that she is not a well-known figure now. Miller worked predominantly as a woodblock print artist, but also published poetry. She did not publish tracts promoting women’s rights, but her own life represents a fascinating intersection between east and west, and tradition and modernity. How she chose to negotiate these issues makes her a useful and unique figure for study. Miller graduated with honours from Vassar after attending high school in Washington DC, where her father was then posted, as Chief of the Far Eastern Division of the State Department.1 One of her classmates at Vassar was Edna St Vincent Millay, and her time there overlapped with Sophia Chen Zen. After college, Miller returned to Japan in 1918, where her parents were again stationed. She resumed her art training with Shimada Bokusen, who gave her daily two-hour

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lessons at home.2 This unusual arrangement, in which the teacher came to her house to ‘attend’ to her in contrast with the norm of the student having to attend the atelier with other students, can be read as high-handed, or at least a commodification of the acquisition of an art style. Her studio – and the manuscript for her book of poetry and prints, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden – was destroyed in 1923 by the great Kanto earthquake. At the time, Miller was in Seoul visiting her parents.3 She fell ill and convalesced at her parents’ home for the next three years, recovering to publish Grass Blades in 1927.

Cultural Borrowing Enrolled in the juku or private teaching atelier of Kano Tomonobu at the age of 9, Lilian Miller showed early talent.4 Given that she was pushed into such training at an early age – the atelier took adult students – it could be questioned how much art was a career ‘choice’ for Miller. Also, it is interesting that whereas other female artists with whom she could most closely be compared are sometimes presented as ‘rebels’ – particularly those who travelled unaccompanied to Asia – Miller was in fact doing what her father wanted. The Orientalist attitudes implied in Miller’s public posture merit interrogation, as David Bate notes: Historically the fundamental relation of the Occident to the East was one of occupation. In imitating the East, the European colonises and disrupts the authenticity of indigenous clothing; but by incorporating the Orient into his or her self-image, the European also acknowledges that the East has entered into the West, disturbing those polarised references on which the fixed image of the Occident/Orient depends: civilised/uncivilised, clean/dirty etc.5 However, the extent to which Miller colonised Japanese culture and the ways she was colonised by it seem to create the central tension of her identity.

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There was a market in Europe and America for the Oriental image. Edmond de Goncourt’s books on Outamaro [Utamaro] (Paris: Bibliotheque-Charpentier, 1891) and Hokousaï (Paris: Flammarion, 1896), and helped to introduce an appreciation of Japanese art to European audiences. He and his brother Jules were among the first to identify Japonisme as a cultural movement, calling attention to a phenomenon they had helped to create. Traditional woodblock prints – ukiyo-e [pictures of the floating world] – were not expensive works of art, were readily available, and most popular from the early-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. As an example of mass culture they tended to represent traditional themes and ideas. Their common availability led Japanese people not to think of them as great works of value, and to be surprised when they were so warmly received in the west.6 Of course, great woodblock artists such as Katsushika Hokusai and Ando Hiroshige became famous and their works are greatly prized. Helen Hyde was the first western woman to produce ‘shin-hanga’ or ‘new prints’ in 1901 in Japan, followed by Bertha Lum and Elizabeth Keith.7 Among such western artists who lived in Japan and worked on Oriental subjects, Miller was the only one born in Asia. Examining their lives offers a way of interrogating Said’s idea of Orientalism (which, by his own admission, was not intended to apply for the Far East, although later scholars have applied it to Japan), and Reina Lewis’s theories on gender and Orientalism. She has written on the conflicted ideas of women artists creating ‘Orientalist’ art (in the Near East, with the images of the harem and Oriental decadence) and the possibility that the artists’ gender subverts the power structure implied by Edward Said’s idea of Orientalism.8 Brown has wondered whether ‘these artists’ unconventional social and sexual identities – neither Miller, Hyde nor Keith married, and Lum spent most of her career separated then divorced – further align them against the patriarchal values of Orientalism.9 Miller arrived in this art world at a time when Japanese artists had started to use this traditional form to represent modern scenes and ideas – even if they were operating ‘traditionally’, and representing the world outside their studio doors, this world now contained modern

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buildings, electricity and women in western dress. This revival, known as Sosaku Hanga (creative print) technique, was influenced by European ideas of ‘the print as an artistic method rather than merely a means of production’.10 Traditionally, woodblock print production involved craftsmen operating to an artist’s direction. After the artist did a watercolour sketch of the image, one person cut the different woodblocks – one for each colour, and a printer then printed the different colours in sequence to create the image. Miller challenged this order by doing it all herself. This in a sense can be taken as western disregard for Asian tradition, however her respect for Japanese styles suggests it was more indicative of her independence (and possibly financial pragmatism). The paradox of her situation was that in Japan she was a foreigner trying to keep a traditional art alive, while in America she was trying to convey the ‘beautiful spirit of Asia’ in a land of industrialisation. In America, particularly when at gallery shows or for newspaper photographers, she adopted a ‘Japanese’ identity, wearing a kimono, but was of course an Anglo-American woman of social standing.11 In this sense she served as part of a tableau of the Oriental, on display in galleries along with her pictures. Whether this was a purely commercial choice, done to attract interest and enhance sales, is unclear. Joan Jensen has argued that ‘ethnic cross-dressing is a complicated process deserving careful historical investigation. In addition to status and dress reform, ethnic cross-dressing may indicate a conscious gesture of solidarity with a subaltern group or a questioning of one’s own ethnic identity’.12 Further than dress, to adopt another culture as one’s own, or ‘go native’ must be considered as one of the implications of Miller’s clothing. Resident in Japan during the 1920s, she only visited America when she exhibited her work there, and her kimono served as a visual cue that she may indeed live completely in Japanese style at ‘home’. As Greg Dening has written, ‘Going native always began – always begins – with some deference to the realism of another cultural system’.13 An alternative comparison can be made however to Marie Antoinette – for instance – dressing as a shepherdess. Rather than associating her with shepherdesses (the subaltern group), this form of

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theatrical ironic reversal serves to underscore that she is not a shepherdess. However, the extent to which Miller was appropriating or colonising Japanese culture is inflected by the fact that she felt a close affinity for Japanese life. In Miller’s case the ways in which she may have chosen the clothing for personal taste or comfort must also be considered. Having grown up in Japan, to her a Japanese costume was not as ‘foreign’ as it would have seemed to some of her observers. However, as with Marie Antoinette, it is precisely the fact that Miller was not Japanese that enabled her to wear a kimono and be a non-threatening symbol to American audiences, the familiar/foreign. Alys Eve Weinbaum who has analysed the advertisements for ethnic themed clothing (Turkish housecoats, Chinese dresses) in American fashion magazines of the 1920s notes that rather than a liberal sensibility, ‘In the United States, the modern consumer’s objective was neither to become Asian through the purchase of Asian things or an Asian aesthetic, nor to become “primitive” through the consumption of “primitive”, often African things. Rather, she sought to embrace a cosmopolitan aesthetic so as to distance herself from the racial “otherness” that she had the power to purchase’.14 Cultural borrowing as a badge of modernity (and modernism) has been identified by Richard Serrano and seen for instance in the works of Ezra Pound.15 Pearl Buck’s use of Chinese literary forms could be seen as another – although differently motivated – example. This is challenged by the various critiques of ‘voice appropriation’ – the adoption of modes of expression from a culture other than the artist’s own, or even simply the depiction of members of other cultures – as harmful to the members of the community from which the borrowing is done.16 However, Miller is different from other artists in this way, due to her unusual background. Whereas ‘for most other Orientalist artists, Asia was a personal discovery and thus often a rejection of the values of their parents and the society in which they were raised; for Miller, the project of making Asia into art grew from the interests of her father, Ransford Stevens Miller’.17 In this sense her poetry is not the equivalent of the work of Ezra Pound ‘creating’ Chinese poetry in English. However, she was participating in the perpetuation of the image of an essentialised Orient in the collective mind of the west. Many

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of Miller’s prints were produced as greeting cards for expatriates in Asia. Multiple originals of woodblock printing offered good financial returns, and Brown has asserted that she only went into woodblock prints (from previously pen and ink and watercolour) for the financial returns. She wrote an account to accompany one of her prints, The Slipper (1920). [ill.1] Two little Korean girls come hurrying past me along a winding alley. ‘They must be going to a feast,’ I thought to myself, ‘for they are in such clean white jackets and pretty coloured skirts. And Little Brother is in his best white trousers and gayest jacket, and they all three seem so pleased and excited.’ Just then the little girl nearest me slipped and lost her gaily decorated little scarlet shoe. ‘I-qu, I-qu’, she exclaimed anxiously, ‘I have dropped my worthless shoe! Honourable Sister, pray wait one little moment.’ Honourable sister slackened her hurried footsteps and the little shoe being retrieved, the trio went happily on together. Perhaps the end of their story is that they arrived at their destination and had a festive time together feasting on a great multitude of delicious cakes. But the end of my story is that they kept haunting the mind of the artist . . . their bright skirts and that little scarlet shoe dropped off and lying in the middle of the street. So I have transferred them onto paper and here they are for you to enjoy also!18 This accompanies a 1920 print of three children on a flat grey background. There is no street, no buildings; the children float in space. This is the ‘most abstract’ of her works from 1920.19 Did Miller even speak Korean? She was creating a story narrative for these children, whom she describes as ‘Korean’ – surely this could be taken for granted given that she was in Korea. ‘I-qu’ conveniently rhymes with ‘I have lost my shoe’; this elision of Korean and English demonstrating the crossing of the cultural boundaries, and also the use of Korean children to populate an English-language narrative. The Korean children are there for ‘you’ (the western consumer) to ‘enjoy’ or consume.

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A typical newspaper story on Miller started with an anecdote that Miller, in childhood, told her ‘Amah’ that American girls like to play with paper dolls. The next day the Amah brought Lilian an armful of colourful pictures, which the little girl cut into dolls. Many years later, Miller attended an exhibition of woodblock prints of old masters. Among the valuable prints she saw one that seemed familiar, and recognised, to her horror, that this was one of the pictures she had cut up as a child.20 In this fascinating anecdote, the idea of an innocent child not realising the value of the pictures is obvious. (The maid’s knowledge – or not – of the value of the pictures she handed over is unclear.) But the idea of American customs – in this case making dolls – literally vandalising traditional Asian cultures is relevant and emotive. An American newspaper story explains her background with admiration: Miss Miller was born and reared in Japan and has mastered to an enviable degree of finesse the Japanese brush work in water colours on silk, and for the past nine years has specialised in the art of making and printing woodblocks, an art which flourished in Japan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but which, Miss Miller tells you with regret, is beginning to die out. Unlike the majority of Japanese artists specialising in this work, Miss Miller not only makes the original watercolour sketch for her print, but has mastered the complicated technical process of cutting her own blocks and making her own prints. The usual procedure is for the artist to do the original watercolour sketch of his subject and then have craftsmen make the blocks and do the printing.21 The story further claims, ‘during the entire period of her American school education she never once seriously touched a paint brush. She made no attempt to continue art studies in this country, as her father did not wish to have the pure, Japanese touch, acquired in childhood, diverted by Western methods’.22 This is belied by the fact that she did illustrations for student publications while at Vassar. Nonetheless, it helps perpetuate the mystique of this Oriental work, that it could only

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be created in the ‘pure’ atmosphere of Japan. Miller presents herself as a creature merely visiting from this ‘pure’ world through her Japanese attire. Miller was clearly consciously projecting this, by making claims of doing no art while in America. A large photo portrait of Miller accompanied the newspaper story. Miller obviously realised, as a creator of multiple series of works herself, that newspapers were another venue for such a repeated image. In this case, the image was her: dressed in kimono, and making use of the fact that a pretty young woman in such a delicate costume would be bound to be photographed. This is an element of the self-fashioning idea of modernity; Miller wore a costume that was transgressive to American society but in keeping with traditional (and anti-modern) female images in Japan. Her achievement in being considered an ‘insider’ by the Japanese is also noted: ‘Miss Miller is the only foreign artist since 1890 who has competed in exhibitions open only to native Japanese’. Miller is quoted as saying: I wish to make a plea for the woodblock print. It’s a dying process. In Japan the old-time craft is being pushed to the wall by modern printing machines. In this country, while etchings have gained an established position in the cultured taste of the public, the woodblock print is little known and appreciated. So I consider my mission twofold: To do my little share toward keeping this beautiful form of artistic expression alive in Japan, and second, in introducing its merits to the American public.23 The newspaper report also uses Miller’s biography for an explanation of east-west cultural exchange. Although Miss Miller spoke only Japanese until her sixth year, she is American in spirit and stated that nothing has ever inspired her more deeply than the Washington Monument. ‘It is my ambition,’ she said, ‘to some day make a Japanese woodblock print of the Monument, painting its grey shaft against the red background of a brilliant sunset’.24

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This conscious exoticising of the white woman raised in the east, with the story of her not speaking English as a child, has parallels in Pearl Buck’s biography. (And seems similarly unlikely: although Miller’s father spoke Japanese and encouraged his daughters to learn it also, it is highly implausible that English was not spoken in the Miller home.) Nonetheless, this recurring trope is a curious one. It is almost a recapitulation of the Wolf Children stories, of children raised in the wild who do not learn of their ‘own’ culture until later. In this case, Asian culture is substituted for ‘the woods’ or some generic wilderness. Miller herself is presented as a curiosity in the newspaper and magazine profiles discussing her work. Nonetheless, as with her avowed admiration of the Washington Monument, she reinforces an American identity and patriotism, and avoids being seen as ‘foreign’. As with her wearing kimono, rather than making her seem to be Japanese, it serves to underscore her whiteness. Her book, Grass Blades in a Cinnamon Garden, is an example of cultural borrowing and experimentation with fusion modernity. The book is Orientalist in its presentation: the small red book is enclosed in a separate heavy card wraparound cover, fastened with ribbon and little bone pins. This origami-like wrapping, for western consumers, serves to underline the ‘exotic’. The poetry is romantic, if of indifferent quality. Both heart and soul cannot forget that day Each hour brings fresh remembrance of its joy. Ah, surely, half myself is wandering there, Still wandering with you through the violets there . . . . And as dull time crawls by I sit and dream, And pray some other morning soon to come Will see us strolling down our violet path, Hand close in hand along our violet path! (from ‘Our Violet Path’)25 Almost all the poems end with an exclamation mark, a rather disconcertingly glib motif. All have an Asian theme, with references to Mount Fuji and various other ‘Oriental’ tropes, and references to

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plums and rice-cakes. The stories of wistful love against a background of temples and cherry blossom seem designed to fit into western readers’ expectation of Oriental exotic. The poem, ‘To a Gilded Buddha in a Curio Store’ represents the themes of modernity and disrespect for the past. Once . . . once you were incarnate God supreme. Hidden within the inmost holy shrine Of some great temple, where with dusky gleam You sat in majesty, your only dream (If dream you could) of lotus-bordered worlds High in some amber universe divine Rich gilded doors kept your calm form aloof, Deep-shadowed peace was there . . . .only the glow Of tall red candles flickered to and fro Upon the gleaming, polished ornaments Of brass beneath your ancient altar-place The deep drums rolled in stirring resonance While, robed in rich brocade, each shaven priest Chanted the sing-song prayers dear to the East Before your gold-encrusted eminence. Long did you rule, on incense did you feast; And with each weighty prayer the beaten lobes Of your gilt, kindly ears did longer grow As if you heard the sighs and hopes and tears Of reverent worshippers and wished to show A gracious interest as they clapped their hands, And rang your temple gongs, and bowed in prayer With that faith nigh sublime of orient lands. Now . . . .now you sit within a shoddy store Of idle curios, to catch the eye Of some loud-talking foreigner. No more Are you a God supreme, and yet no sigh. Comes from your rusted lips: with stoic mien You bear the abuse of those who scorn and scold; Dust-covered, but ineffably serene,

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You hear your Godhead bartered for mere gold . . . . And though you must have suffered wrongs untold, Nirvana’s peace you contemplate with calm Before a gaudy, worthless tourist screen! Today some noisy strangers found you there And laughed to see your distant, pensive air; I heard then say, ‘Look at his ugly head!’ ‘Let’s buy him for the billiard-room.’ they said.26 The depiction of uncultured westerners, like the tourists disdained by Stella Benson, adds another layer to the bicultural pose by Miller. It is in some cases westerners who are most critical of their own when it comes to imperialising or vandalising other cultures. The position of a white person as saviour or protector of a culture, one specifically endangered by white/modern society, is an ongoing trope of the ‘going native’ discourse. She depicts Japan as her home, a place in which she is familiar and comfortable: ‘The Little Shrines’ dedicated ‘To F.H.C.B.’ ‘The little shrines in quiet lanes, I love them so; Through wintry winds or summer rains, By morning light or when dusk wanes The pines trace patterns on their scarlet glow. The little shrines in quiet courts, – My heart is their’s [sic]; Beneath cool eaves their wind disports, Bright cherry petals it assorts And their soft perfume past each gateway bears. The little shrines in quiet trees Stir my delight; I trace each worn and weathered frieze, The fragile, carven balconies, And pause where incense steals in languorous flight. The little shrines on quiet hills, –

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I seek their peace; By high rock-bastioned mountain rills, By groves wherein the wild dove thrills To his mate they stand, and lone guard never cease.27 The poems also include vignettes of the beautiful exotic, such as ‘Cherry Blossoms of Tokyo’, where ‘Dawn rises red across the east’ and ‘cherries glow/Among far, quiet temple ways’.28 The unusual text formatting also hints at some kind of ‘Oriental’ look; like a western impression of Asian poetry. This poem about old ladies shows an idyllic image of aging in Japan and the harmonious beauty of the landscape: ‘The Little Old Ladies of Japan’ Today I saw three ladies bent with years, Little and old and gnarled, with mincing gait Trudging along the road that skirts the great High temple. Snails, indeed, could travel faster Than their quaint clogs, and others would have sneers For their slow steps; but I, like some old master, Studied delightedly their soft dark robes, Scanned with close eye the deep, carved ivory Of their brown faces. Pattering gaily on, They tripped, a happy trio, past my eyes To where the lanterns hang like orange globes At the temple gate of Buddha, Mighty One. And as they went, I fell in revery [sic]: Wondered at first – then saw they held the prize Of lives well lived, and daily duties done; And now they can approach without a fear The last gate of them all, as each white year Brings them in simple peace nearer the end. Ah, you may tread far paths about this world, See many a curious thing, and faithfully wend Long eastern miles, but never will you find Three such old ladies, gentle, mild of mien,

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Such calm of heart, such smooth, still peace of mind, Such fragrant old age, – tranquil, sweet, serene!29 It is amusing to contrast this with Caroline McMahon’s image of mischievous old ladies taking advantage of a gerontocratic social system to cut loose without opprobrium. In a brief photoessay in the February 1931 issue of Asia, ‘Three Artists Who Transcend the Bounds of East and West’, Miller features first (the other artists are a Japanese illustrator who does not work in traditional Japanese style, and an American sculptor of half-Japanese ancestry). The page shows – in black and white, Asia not carrying coloured illustrations at this stage – two of her woodblock prints and a photo of Miller at work in her studio. In this photo, she is wearing a kimono, and kneeling on the floor, either cleaning or inking a woodblock (it is unclear). She is looking down at what she is doing, rather than at the camera – this is deliberately an image of ‘the artist at work’ rather than a portrait, and conveys also the meekness and docility of idealised Asian womanhood. We are told, ‘Miss Miller was taught by her Japanese master to copy patiently and devotedly, not nature itself but the representations of nature that he set her in the traditional style. She must spend an entire year in studying the various aspects of the plum tree’.30 This reverence for the repetition and solemnity (and possible spiritual aspect) of acquiring a Japanese art form implies both that Miller was indeed channelling an essential Japaneseness rather than expressing herself, and that the readers of Asia held similar respect for Japanese culture. Woodblock prints are identified as ‘one of the most typical of Japanese arts’.31 It was certainly the one that most clearly spoke ‘Japan’ to a western audience. The idea that these pictures are an egalitarian art form also allies them with American value of democracy. We are told that ‘these supreme effects were designed not for the cultured noble nor discriminating court official, but turned out by the hundred for the common people’.32 Miller explained her own career in the Vassar magazine in 1932: ‘having been born and brought up in Japan and, as a child, having been trained in the technique of oriental painting by Japanese masters,

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it seemed very natural to gravitate to the art of woodblock painting’. Miller described woodblock printing as ‘fast becoming a lost art’, the handcraft skills driven ‘to the wall’ by mechanisation.33 Today I try to work just as a Japanese would have worked a hundred years ago, with this difference: I have had to learn to be artist, cutter and printer all combined. It is difficult for the Japanese to understand why I do all the processes myself. So I have to explain that in our country there are no cutters and printers, and artists must do their own work. Her attempt to negotiate her own career path demonstrates some of the freedom and challenges of the Modern Woman: ‘I feel, somehow, as though I were between two fires, as in Japan an artist demeans himself by doing the technical labour’. She emphasises her role as interpreter between Japan and America. ‘One must be a pioneer, a bridge, to span the gap from west to east’.34 In Japan, Miller’s main outlet was producing greetings cards for expatriates: the possibility of purchasing an Asian image for western purpose – like a Christmas card featuring a ukiyo print and a seasonal message in English – shows cultural hybridity and Orientalist appropriation. Rain Blossoms, Japan, 1928 [ill.2]. This image, of umbrellas as ‘blossoms’, is a beautiful example of Miller’s work. There are human figures but we do not see their faces, so they function as elements of the landscape. The plain shapes of their bodies have no colour or pattern of clothing, making them the backdrop for the umbrellas in their colourful designs. She presents an image of traditional Oriental motifs – bridge, willow trees – with no indications of modernity (the umbrellas are the most technologically advanced items). The gender of the figures is indeterminate. Miller presented Asia in a time warp. She used traditional ukiyo themes, often landscapes, rather than modern or city scenes. This could reflect personal taste, or the market forces. However, the success of Elizabeth Keith with figurative images and prints of more obviously current city scenes shows that there was a market for these also. An example of Miller’s typical style is Moonlight on Fujiyama, 1928 [ill.3]. She created a number of works on Mt Fuji – at sunset, dawn,

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etc. This most important of Japanese landmarks being depicted in Japanese style by an American is both an homage and a cultural appropriation. While Mt Fuji had cultural significance for the Japanese, for the westerner it simply signified ‘Japan’, and Miller was producing these images at a time when American art was impressed by Ansel Adams’ photos showing the magnificent mountains of America’s national parks, and rugged nature images were in fashion. The Dwarf Pine Tree [ill.4], or bonsai, is also interesting. The shading and light on the bark suggest a natural light source as though the tree is in a forest, but the fact it is in a pot obviously shows it to be a domesticated plant. The absence of background removes it from any context. It could be in a forest, in a house, or anywhere. It floats as an Oriental motif ready to be transplanted anywhere. A further nature abstraction is Rainbow Phoenix Waterfall [ill.5], which presents the falls as though seen from a cave. The resulting image is like a Rorschach blot on the page. We have the falls, with the surrounding rocks in various delicate shades of pink, grey and lilac, surrounded by a jagged black outline. Plants at the margin appear as smudges of red and yellow. Miller’s Nikko Gate [ill.6] is a typical example of the structures she depicted. Unlike Keith, she focused on traditional architecture, and similar buildings to those traditionally featured in ukiyo prints; temples and shrines, rather than houses and commercial buildings. The buildings are themselves attractive but do not show signs of human use, as there are typically no figures in the image. This in itself presents Asia as a picturesque landscape for the projection of the viewer’s fantasies.

Female Independence Kendall Brown has drawn on private correspondence between Miller and her parents and younger sister, Harriet, to illustrate more about her personal life.35 In a lengthy epistle from October 1920, Miller describes her inability to ‘make’ herself fall in love with a man, work up a single palpitation or ‘even the ghost of one’.36 Brown suggests that ‘The most private confessions also suggest that lesbianism, wittingly or not, may have influenced Miller’s decision as an adult to

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live and work in the Far East – where being outside the norm was part of every Westerner’s experience’.37 In her public persona, the cues of this were (perhaps) her short haircut and being known to friends and family as ‘Jack’. However, bobbed hairstyles were popular in the 1920s, and Miller’s father had given her and her sister Harriet –‘Hal’ – masculine nicknames in childhood. The extent to which she intended these attributes as coding her sexual preference is unclear. Laura Doan has suggested that in the decade following World War I, the meaning of clothing was ‘a good deal more fluid than fixed’, particularly in marking gender identity. When analysing the coding of gender identity of this period, she argues, if we ‘impose our current assumptions about the requisite association of clothing and same-sex desire, we risk misreading female masculinities in the 1920s’.38 As she explains: from Renée Vivien to Radclyffe Hall and Djuna Barnes, from Vita Sackville-West to Willa Cather and Gertrude Stein, a number of other women transgressively appropriated male costumes or oscillated between parodically female and male costumes as if to declare that as Woolf said, ‘we are what we wear and therefore, since we can wear anything, we can be anyone’.39 Miller can be seen to have been following this practice, wearing male clothing in her private life but ‘parodically’, or at least emphatically female costume in the form of the kimono in public. Miller’s art focuses on traditional subjects and scenes from nature and Kendall Brown has argued that she replaced Asian ‘tradition’ for the western cultural norms she was flouting (being unmarried, calling herself ‘Jack’). For Brown’s speculation of lesbianism, he produces no conclusive evidence of Miller’s sexuality. Her own peripatetic lifestyle meant that her estate left very little in the way of personal papers. Brown has pointed out these contradictions in her identity that made her a stranger in America but always marked as a foreigner in Japan, and that she lived in hotels most of her adult life. Her dual identity

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also comes through in her use of the name ‘Jack’ to family and friends, but Lilian to the art-buying public.40 He has further suggested, In terms of Miller’s negotiation of gender roles, in Japan where this craft was the province of men, Miller’s production of her own prints was an inherently transgressive act. Yet, in the West, where craft work was increasingly associated with bourgeois femininity, Miller’s carving and printing may well have been read as appropriately feminine behaviour.41 As she herself conceded, ‘Sometimes it is difficult to be a messenger between east and west. Sometimes one falls in the gulf between’.42 Lilian Miller attempted to transgress, and indeed to transcend, her social position and identity in her performance both of Japaneseness and masculinity. To the extent that she placed herself in Japanese society, and adopted Japanese cultural practices, her behaviour also constituted a rebellion against the appropriate practices for a Japanese woman, and was therefore a trading on her white status to operate outside the cultural expectations of Japan. Likewise, in America, she traded on a performed exoticism to again step outside culturally coded behaviour for a white woman of her social status. Alys Eve Weinbaum has claimed, in her assessment of a Vanity Fair photoessay from 1925 featuring masks, in which a white model poses with a Japanese mask, ‘the racial superiority of the model is equated with her ability to control the ‘Nipponese’ mask - to not only put on Japaneseness but also to take it off to expose her own white modernity’.43 Lilian Miller offered the ‘Oriental’ without the mask, the pose of a Japanese woman, but with a white face. In this way she performed as the assimilated Japanese. Rather than black-face minstrelsy or other forms of racial masquerade, her cultural cross-dressing was a performance of whiteness. Her kimono and kneeling position, beautiful woodcut artworks, only emphasised her whiteness, in that the exoticism of the setting made her more white. Her gender performance in her private life adds another layer, in that she seems to have avoided the role of white American woman. She played it ironically ‘as’ Japanese, and when in western dress she subverted it with male costume.

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Lilian May Miller is therefore an example of the performative aspects of the Modern Woman, approaching hybridity from the opposite side to Sophia Chen Zen. Miller was an American woman born in Japan, who consciously adopted a Japanese identity. Like Pearl Buck, she felt more at home in Asia than America and she demonstrates her strong affinity for Japan in her choice of career and personal presentation in Japanese dress. She was able to claim inheritance of two distinct cultural traditions and demonstrate her fluency in slipping between them. In such ways she demonstrates modernity as transgressing cultural boundaries, and the independence that allowed her to pursue such a career as marking her as ‘modern’ (in different ways) both in Japan and the USA.

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UNO CHIYO (1897–1996)

Uno Chiyo was a Japanese short-fiction writer known for her beauty and flamboyant lifestyle. She represented the Modern Woman through her image and her disregard for convention (she was known for her many lovers) and she conveyed these through her autobiographical fiction. I explore this through her public image and her writing, in particular her most famous work, the novel Confessions of Love. Chiyo began publishing in the 1920s, and her career’s first peak came in the 1930s with this novel. She was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1980s with the success of her autobiography, which was turned into a television series. The Japanese tradition of restraint on individual expression, especially for women, often resulted in the popularity of writing in the form of diaries. In the modern period, as men faced the dislocation and powerlessness of modern urban life, they turned to the same form. In the arts, individualism was the focus, with ‘I-novels’, describing the author’s moods being very popular. Unlike the idealism of the Meiji, Taisho writers explored romantic love and dark eroticism.1 ‘I-Novel’ is a translation of watakushi shosetsu, which means ‘confessional personal fiction’.2 Women’s writing in this genre generally not classed as watakushi shosetsu, but as ‘autobiographical fiction’. In particular, the confessional diaries of women writers in the classical Japanese tradition constituted a wellspring for this preeminent genre of modern Japanese letters. It is not surprising, then, given greater opportunities for education and the growth of a sizable female readership, especially among the urban middle

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classes, that women should adopt similar confessional forms to express their world.3 The most successful writers – male and female – were influenced by this ‘feminine’ tradition. This form of first-person confessional writing suited Chiyo’s self-publicising style, in which she laid bare the details of her private life for public consumption. This is a very modern approach to the opportunity of fame, in pursuing the public role of celebrity – someone who is famous simply for being themselves – rather than any particular achievement. This notion was also part of the idea of the ‘it girl’ that came to prominence in the USA in the 1920s. Chiyo’s biographer, Rebecca Copeland, has acknowledged that Chiyo played up the more scandalous aspects of her life. Nonetheless, her lifestyle, in which she created for herself an image as powerful as any in her writing, offers an alternative view of modernity. Whereas Stella Benson said that being a novelist was not about recording things, but creating them, Chiyo created herself. Although she transgressed boundaries with her sexuality, the boundaries ran along different lines from society in the west and the performance of westernised modernity faced different challenges in Japan for this reason.

Independence Chiyo grew up in relative poverty.4 After her mother’s death, which occurred while Chiyo was still an infant, her father remarried a woman called Ryu, who treated Chiyo as her own daughter and was supportive of her desire for independence. Nonetheless, the family arranged for her to be married at the age of fourteen to a cousin. However, this ‘marriage’ lasted only ten days, during which her husband stayed away from the house, having no interest in the child-bride his family had chosen. Chiyo ran away to her own parents’ home, and her aunt/ mother-in-law did not force her to return to her husband.5 Chiyo continued to go to school, and as a teenager, read Seito [Bluestocking] magazine and was strongly influenced by the ideas it promoted.6 Seito was published from September 1911 to February

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1916 and had ‘added demands for female sexuality to Meiji feminists’ demands for economic independence and political rights’.7 Seito introduced in Japanese translation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and the works of Swedish feminist Ellen Key. This demonstrates an aspect of hybrid feminism, with the assumption that the concerns of women in Japan were analogue to those of women in Europe. The magazine’s contributors were often graduates of the new Japanese women’s colleges and from affluent families.8 The preface to the first issue, written by Hiratsuka Raicho, stated that, ‘In the beginning women were the Sun Goddess, genuine human beings, but now they have dwindled to the status of the pale-faced moon, living on nourishment from the outside’.9 Chiyo wrote of how this influenced her and her contemporaries: Deeply stimulated by a then fashionable motto, ‘In antiquity, woman was the sun’, my friends at the school and I thought that we might really be the sun. We published a small magazine, as many literary-minded young people did in those days, featuring poems and essays of an abstract nature.10 This demonstrates the impact of Seito. While still at school, Chiyo also joined a literary group. ‘I also met people who wrote novels in which lovers talked like city people. Aspiring writers in this group got together and went to the town photographer to have their picture taken: young men in straw hats or holding walking sticks; women clasping artificial chrysanthemums or a parasol’.11 The reference to ‘city people’ demonstrates how she saw her small town upbringing as limited and the way the city held an allure of excitement and sophistication. When Chiyo finished secondary school she became a teaching assistant. It was at this point that she discovered the power of makeup as a mode of personal expression and identity creation. As Copeland writes, She began wearing makeup daily, never leaving the house without it. She would rise at dawn and elaborately wash, rinse, and powder her face and throat. Next she would apply rouge and eyeliner. Since Chiyo was working within a budget, she had to

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learn to improvise. A burnt match tip worked well as an eyebrow pencil . . . Oncer her grooming was complete, a process she eventually managed in forty-five minutes, she proudly likened her painted face to ‘a tree peony in full bloom’.12 She also made her own clothes to express her flamboyant sense of style: ‘before an author could “self-expose” he or she had first to create a “self” to expose’.13 Chiyo wrote descriptively of her time as a teacher: ‘I went to the school wearing white powder on my face and a long, blue hakama skirt over my tight-sleeved kimono that was adorned with a wide, decorative cord at the wrists, an outfit reminiscent of the one worn by the ancient hero, Prince Yamato Takeru. I rented a room in a farm house by the river, not far from the school. There I began my independent life’.14 The goal of female independence recurs through her writing; while obviously not objecting to marriage, she clearly wished for relationships on her terms which allowed for her autonomy. At this time she started a literary group called Kaicho (Seabird). They produced a small magazine, Kaicho, although this was abandoned after only three issues.15 This demonstrates her early keenness for publication and an audience for her writing. While teaching, Chiyo began an affair – the first of many such relationships – with a colleague. She was forced to leave her home town of Iwakuni due to scandal over the affair and went to Korea, where she did domestic work for Japanese families. However, she continued to correspond with her lover in the hope of being reunited. When her lover wrote and asked her to stop contacting him, she returned to Japan in a rage. On the way to his house she purchased a knife. When she arrived at his home, he tried to force her to leave, and in the scuffle the knife fell from her obi. The confrontation ended when he threw her and her belongings into a ditch.16 Chiyo drew on this and other such colourful escapades in her stories and her self-representation as a passionate woman who lived for love. She later wrote of the affair: Yes, I was in love. It was joyful to be young, to be alive. Instead of thinking I might be the sun, I now felt I was a butterfly. I stopped writing verses and essays. I had no time to spare. Instead

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of writing about my emotions, I acted upon them. I was in love just like the characters in the stories in the typeset magazine we had published. I thought I had no need to write anymore. However, romance distracted her from literary pursuits; she later wrote, ‘that was when I was eighteen, and between then and the year I turned twenty-six, I didn’t write a single line’.17 Her reputation seemed to be irredeemably tarnished by the affair in Iwakuni by 1915, and she was offered a way out, with marriage to her other cousin, Fujimura Tadashi. Although the relationship was not formalised, the couple went to live in Tokyo where he enrolled at the Imperial University and Chiyo worked various part-time jobs to make ends meet.18 They addressed each other as brother and sister in public and kept their true relationship secret. At one point during this period, Chiyo worked at the Enrakuken, a western-style restaurant, but for only 18 days.19 Because the restaurant was across the road from publishing house Chuo Koron Sha, it was frequented by editors and writers. Chiyo later credited her skill with make-up, and her attractiveness, with having led the editor Takita Choin to notice her when she was working as a café waitress, and later publish her work.20 She explains her employment as a waitress saying: ‘Hotels and restaurants, both Japanese and Western-style, were the main places where women who had nothing but their able bodies could work’.21 The café was the public space most clearly associated with the moga, and modernity more generally.22 The idea of the café as a space in which patrons are on view is also a modern idea, and at counterpoint to the traditional Japanese teahouse in which patrons would have been screened from passers-by. The advent of waitressing as a job for women had led many supervisors to plans on how to train them, and thus created a standardisation of expectations on the part of customers, as this newspaper report from 1919 suggests: The perfect waitress is not born but made, especially in Japan, where people are wonderfully amenable to instruction but not given much to thinking for themselves. The instructed maid

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reaches a perfection of manner unknown outside Japan. The uninstructed possesses a blockish uncouthness that is astonishing. Realising this, the Waitresses’ Guild in Kyoto has arranged to open a school of instruction for prospective restaurant maids in the grounds of the Kojuin temple at Yamatoeji, Kyoto.23 The job of a Japanese waitress, however, was not necessarily just to take orders and serve food and drinks competently. Many of the Ginza-type cafés in fact promoted an atmosphere of eroticism. To attract customers, waitresses were encouraged to entice male passers-by, sell kisses, and sleep with the clientele after hours. Their employers’ practice of compelling the women to live on tips in lieu of wages was an added inducement to cater to the whims of customers.24 This economic situation existed because every waitress had to ‘pay the owner for her meals and the employment of the cooks at the cafe. She was also responsible for the cost of any drinks, food, matches or other items consumed by her patrons’.25 The fact that engaging more waitresses did not require outlay on the part of the cafe owner meant that large establishments could have dozens of waitresses, some with as many as one per customer. The profession of café waitress, jokyu, became synonymous with the ‘modern girl’ in all its derogatory senses. In 1919, Chiyo and Fujimura Tadashi were formally married. They continued to keep their relationship secret, and Chiyo did not make her marital status part of her public identity. In 1920, Tadashi graduated and they moved to Sapporo, Hokkaido, where he had found a job. If it had been a Hollywood movie, I would have met a rich, good-looking man who would have taken me to a nice seaside or mountain resort. But the only men who appeared in my life were poor, uninteresting, and short. So I had to continue until one of my lovers, who managed to graduate from the university and get a position in Sapporo, sent for me. I quit my job and got on the train.26

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It is interesting that she refers to her then-husband as ‘one of my lovers’; no mention here that they had already been living together for several years, with the blessing of both families, thus her account making her life seem more scandalous or louche than it actually was. Initially, she was happy in Sapporo. It was simply wonderful to be a housewife, that I had nothing to worry about. Now, I told myself, I could start my studies so that I could become a ‘significant’ woman. I got out pen and paper. From my husband’s bookshelves I chose a collection of essays on women by Babel and began translating it. I might become a writer like Hiratsuka Raicho or Yamakawa Kikue . . . My husband returned home late one night and looked at my work. ‘What’s a “Sukopenhuauer”?’ he asked. I told him it was the name of a person, Schopenhauer, and he laughed, loudly, for a long time. I put my pen down and sighed. What long winter . . . I drew all the curtains and knitted socks again.27 Her quiet life in Sapporo gave her ample opportunity to write. She remembered one of her customers when she worked in the restaurant in Tokyo. He would eat a five-course lunch in fifteen minutes, gulp a beer, throw a fifty-sen tip onto the silver-plated serving tray, and hurry out of the restaurant. I bought many things with those fifty-sen coins back in those days. That’s it, I said to myself; I should try to see if Kintaro would give me fifty sen again. And I started writing. I wrote everyday.28 The resulting story was ‘To Open a Grave’. The heroine of the story was a young, idealistic teacher, clearly resembling the author. Chiyo submitted it to a magazine, and when she had still heard nothing months later, she thought that perhaps her manuscript has been misplaced and went to the magazine offices in Tokyo to check. When she got there, the editor gave her a copy of the magazine. She discovered that her story was to be published in the next issue.29 Chiyo was paid

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366 yen for the piece – a fortune compared to the 8 yen a month she had earned as a teacher’s assistant. She stayed in Tokyo and never returned to Tadashi in Sapporo. My story had been published in the May issue of the magazine. It would be in the bookstores in a few days. As I thought about this, my heart started pounding and a strange feeling of apprehension filled my abdomen. My story is published, I said to myself, and left the room without even thanking Mr Takita. I ran down the stairs. Whom should I tell first? Her sense of achievement is such that she declares, ‘I’d finally become a significant woman’.30 As she tried to craft her persona, she found she needed something on which to base it. ‘Although I had become a writer overnight, I didn’t know what to write next. I had yet to find my model’. She seems paradoxically insecure about her own abilities, and to only feel like herself, when pretending to be someone else. No matter what I was going to write, I had first to decide: to write ‘like’ whom? So this poor writer began reading. I read whatever caught my eye, one book after another, works of both Japanese and foreign authors. Like a housewife who became suddenly rich, I had to learn to put a costume on properly, in a hurry, without anyone knowing about it. She consciously adopted the style of different writers. My talent seemed colourfully varied, like a rainbow, and it appeared I was a born writer. Women are forever concerned with what to wear, and so, preoccupied with what I should put myself into, I came to believe that those borrowed outfits were my own, that I could change from one to the other depending on my mood.31 This personal re-invention and adaptation, in a world of I-novels and autobiographical short stories, creates a hall of mirrors of personal

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identity. It is difficult to trace the ‘self’ in the author when the author is unclear. Her writing had become her career. ‘I was so absorbed in myself that I forgot about returning to my home in Hokkaido where violets were blooming – in fact I didn’t even realise that I’d forgotten’. She later commented, ‘A woman’s memory is conveniently flexible’.32 This wry observation can be applied to her various autobiographical revisions. Her abandonment of her first husband was perhaps the least forgivable act for a Japanese woman, suggesting ‘that most heinous of Japanese character flaws, wagamama, or “selfishness”.’33 The idea that selfishness was a grave sin in Japan has been demonstrated in Carol McMahon’s observational anecdotes. In 1922, Chiyo met the man who would become her next husband, Ozaki Shiro, another writer. He added to the scandal by writing a newspaper article declaring, ‘I stole her like a wild dog!’34 Tadashi did not press charges for adultery – punishable for women by a prison term – and the pair were finally divorced in 1924, and Chiyo married Ozaki soon after.35 Chiyo also dropped the name Fujimura, and began using Uno. She did not take another husband’s name. Chiyo and Ozaki went to live in the Magome village, where their home – and the village itself – became a refuge for other writers and artists left homeless by the 1923 earthquake. The village grew: by 1929 over 80 writers had moved there to form a creative community.

Self-Fashioning Chiyo wrote of her life with Ozaki Shiro that, ‘I wrote all day long. My daily life was so calm and quiet that I could hear the breeze outside my window. I meticulously described every detail of my life’. Her need for a mentor and guide is clear. ‘When I wrote a line, I’d turn to my new husband and ask how he would have written it, for I had now decided that he – and only he – was my teacher’.36 She adopted her husband’s style, ‘his glasses’, and ‘when the results seemed to fit his taste more than mine, I felt relieved’. This suggests that although she promoted herself as a ‘personality’, she was in fact trying on various different personalities to conceal her own. She concludes, ‘How ludicrous it is

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that I act like a wife in my career as a writer’.37 In 1927, Chiyo decided to adopt the mark of a moga, and cut her hair short.38 She believed it took seven years off her looks.39 She also designed and sold her own kimonos, adding a commercially available visual stamp to her flamboyant image. Chiyo’s choice of kimono for personal expression is idiosyncratic and reflects a unique approach to the visual markers of the Modern Woman. Even in 1918, an article from the Japan Weekly Chronicle carried the headline ‘THE DOOM OF THE KIMONO’ and called it ‘Extravagant, Unhealthy and Immodest’. It refers to an editorial in Hochi, a Tokyo journal, which held the opinion that in no other civilised country is clothing so uneconomical, unhealthy, and undesirable from the moral point of view worn by women. How uneconomical the kimono style of dress is can be easily realised from the fact that several thousand yen are frequently spent upon a single obi which is at once spoilt by exposure to a few spots of rain. The writer goes on to refer to the ‘unhygienic features of the kimono, these are too evident to need special mention’. Further, the retention of such an ‘inconvenient costume’ would affect the ‘physique of Japanese women’ and have an ‘injurious effect upon the constitution of future generations’. This is oddly redolent of the modernisers’ arguments in China that footbinding constricted the uterus and would lead to degeneration of Chinese society. The kimono ‘must be denounced’ from the view of ‘national development and racial improvement’. Further, ‘it is highly undesirable that the Japanese should allow themselves to be flattered by the empty adulations of foreigners about the Japanese kimono being so graceful into disregarding the evil effect such apparel is destined to produce upon the future of the country’.40 However, the kimono was not abandoned too swiftly. In 1923, Thomas McMahon was still able to write: Though the Empress sets the example in European fashions, the majority of Japanese women still cling to the beautiful, suitable,

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and graceful kimono and ‘Obi’ or such. Japanese husbands like modern suits, but they do not approve of modern dresses. Some advanced women, and there are such in modern Japan, though not of the militant type, are endeavouring to modernise dress, a sort of compromise, a skirt of European style, with a body of Japanese kimino-effect [sic], with boots or shoes, but the idea is not taking hold, the kimono, obi, and sandal are supreme.41 In the end, practicality may have had a greater impact on changes in dress than modernising philosophies. Edward Seidenstricker has described a fire at the Shirokiya department store in 1932. Several women died when they fell as they attempted to climb down ropes to escape. These falls were blamed on traditional dress, which did not include underwear. The women used one hand for the rope and the other to prevent their skirts from flying up – and they fell. The significance of this was enough for the department store to start paying female employees a subsidy for wearing foreign dress, and to require that they wear underpants.42 However, this is still a case of the impact of modernity, with a modern venue – a department store – which provided women with employment outside the home providing reason for those women to bear the visual markers (foreign dress) of ‘modernity’. The shift away from kimono in general dress had a major effect on that most recognisable of Japanese female icons, the geisha: ‘Their status as arbiters of feminine fashion and manner, however, was threatened economically and aesthetically by café waitresses and moga. The former provided similar services for a cheaper price, and many of the latter fulfilled related functions for free’.43 The profession of café waitress, jokyu, became synonymous with the ‘modern girl’ in all its derogatory senses. In 1932, Chiba Prefecture introduced a law requiring jokyu to be licensed by the police and subjected to monthly physical exams like those for prostitutes; this led to public protests by two hundred jokyu.44 The disconnexion of modern life had also made geisha curators of Japan’s cultural past rather than women of ‘today’. Their visual distance from contemporary women in dress became far greater than it was historically, and this anachronism also served to make them seem

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more ethereal. In her experiment with female roles, Chiyo had played waitress, traditional wife, and moga, for public consumption.

Fame While other women writers addressed social issues, Uno Chiyo focused on ‘the smaller world of personal heartbreak’.45 Her multiple marriages and various affairs as well as her willingness to publicise them made her famous. When her marriage to Ozaki Shiro ended in 1929, duelling versions of the break-up were published by each of them.46 Her novel, Confessions of Love (first serialised in Chuo Koron from 1933– 1935), follows the romantic adventures of Yuasa Joji. He is a successful artist who has just returned to Japan after several years living in Paris. Married with a small child, he is first pursued by a girl of eighteen, Komaki Takao. However, it is her best friend Tsuyuko who becomes the object of his obsession. In the course of the story he loses Tsuyuko and divorces his wife to marry another young woman, Tomoko. When he and Tsuyuko are reunited they enter into a suicide pact. Love suicides were not infrequent in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s; infrequent enough to make the papers, but common enough that such reports were regular.47 The Japan Chronicle carried a brief note about suicides in 1920, and their relative frequency in Japan. The writer acknowledged that many such deaths were the result of despair in poverty, ‘but the sentimental halo that invests suicide, from whatever cause, in Japan, certainly makes it more frequent than it would be if the folly of doing such a thing when one could command the price of several drinks were recognised.’ 4 8 The article explains this with reference to an account of an English coroner, delivering a verdict on a suicide, who reported ‘that as the deceased had over five shillings in his pocket the jury can assign no reason for his rash act’. The frequency of suicide in Japan was noted by the foreign-language press as something of a curiosity. In the Japanese press it was romanticised, as offering the ultimate escape from family obligations (such as arranged marriage) and such deaths carried an air of glamour in the ways they were reported. Confessions of Love was based on real events in the life of Seiji Togo, a western-style artist, with Cubist and Futurist influences. Chiyo had

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been previously acquainted with him through mutual friends.49 She arranged to meet him in 1929 after reading in the newspaper of his highly publicised double suicide attempt, inviting him to give her his account so she could understand the man’s side of it. When they met in a bar, he was still bandaged around the neck. They later returned to his house and spent the night on the bloodstained futon where the suicide attempt had been made.50 They stayed together for five years. For Confessions of Love, Phyllis Lyons offered this summary, which for succinctness I cannot improve upon: An almost-divorced married man, ‘only waiting for a few details to be settled’ (Confessions, p.3) but still living with his wife and child, is pursued by a woman who captures him, frenziedly nearseduces him, and runs away (to reappear later, to cause the suicide of another innocent youth); her place in the man’s life is taken by one of the first woman’s friends; the course of their ideal but intense love, which at first ‘continued to grow in the ordinary way without any complications’ (Confessions, p.33), gets very complicated indeed, and the second woman is kidnapped by her family and sent off to America; in an effort to soothe his distraught heart, the man gets involved with a third woman, ill with t.b., and marries her to give her even a brief experience of ‘woman’s happiness’ (even though his divorce is still not quite settled); and then the second woman suddenly reappears, and the man flips for her again, but don’t worry, the third woman/ wife has at the same instant dumped him for the man she really loved, which makes our hero furious; and the third woman/wife’s parents try unsuccessfully to force a reunion; and the man and second woman attempt suicide together, but it doesn’t work, and now, six years later, the man’s life ‘has settled down naturally’ (Confessions, p.156) Confessions offers an ‘accurate portrayal of Japanese society during the late 1920s – a time of instability and confusion – as well as for its female protagonists who insist on choosing their own futures yet still lack the means to financial independence’.51 However, society had

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changed even in the few years between the events’ occurrence and the appearance of the book. Japan of the early 1930s was turning away from the western-style decadence celebrated in the story.52 Confessions of Love is written in the first person, although Togo is given the name Joji. The technique was traditional: fiction that was derived from actual events, often in the author’s own life, ‘has long been the staple of Japanese literature. For generations, Japanese authors have fought with their fathers, eloped with geishas, joined Communist cells, recanted, attempted to hang themselves, and then rushed back to their studies to transcribe reliable accounts for their novels, short stories, and poems’.53 Chiyo was placing her book within this genre and at the same time subverting it by writing as Joji. Confessions of Love also poses challenges for foreign readers. Phyllis Lyons has discussed the tendency for things that sound good in Japanese to sound ‘tacky’ in English. The implausibility of the complicated plot doesn’t help, ‘it doesn’t matter that the events actually may have happened; in English, the translator just can’t make them work felicitously’. Given the Japanese tradition of ‘personal fiction’, works are often judged ‘above all by [their] relation to the author’s life’.54 Chiyo’s book was unusual for being an I-novel that was not about the author. ‘By removing herself from the narrative and writing essentially an objective account of someone else’s experiences, Uno proved that she was not just a ‘woman writer’ turning her scandals to profit, but a significant storyteller as well’.55 Phyllis Birnbaum has suggested that if Togo had written it, he would have made himself more sympathetic; as it is, he seems ‘Weak, selfish, yet somehow irresistible’, and he ruins the lives of the women around him.56 The female characters in the story represent different elements of Japanese womanhood and different approaches to modernity. Tomoko (the man-eater) wears western clothing, including dressing as a schoolgirl. The pure Tsuyuko, however, is described as dressed in kimono. Although Chiyo’s characterisation of Togo/Joji may not have been as sympathetic as he would have written, she did not take the opportunity to get revenge by writing him as a villain, or detailing her grievances: he had, by the time she finished writing Confessions, jilted her. She then discovered that he had returned to Mitsuko (his partner

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in the suicide pact which they had both survived, called Tsuyuko in the story). She ‘went temporarily berserk’, restoring her equilibrium by again returning to fiction skewering the men who had mistreated her.57 The paradox of finding herself trounced by a woman who had served as a character in her own book must have been galling to say the least. Her autobiographical focus makes her works seem like I-novels but the manner is different: Chiyo ‘never feels sorry for herself and never uses the novel as a medium of confession. She describes her life with candour, objectively analysing even her least admirable traits and impulses without shame or apologies. She discloses her faults not with masochistic pleasure in her own wickedness but with a kind of surprise that someone like herself exists’.58 Of course, it is not clear how ‘objective’ her writing is, as Copeland has suggested we cannot take all her writing as factual. So we as readers must try to interpret through two layers, the first that any autobiographical writing is of course subjective, and second that Uno Chiyo was to varying degrees trying to create a public persona in her writing, that may have diverged from how she really was. Women writers in Japan transgressed, especially by seeming to take their job as a writer more seriously than their role as daughters or wives. Chiyo, despite being thrice divorced, ‘was always able to maintain a reputation as a ‘good wife’, perhaps because she was so skilful in crafting the façade of ‘devotion,’ putting her passion for her husband before her passion for her work’. Chiyo was herself devoted to her work, but in the persona she contrived in her early career, ‘made her audience believe that she put love first’.59 Her visual persona may also have assisted in this. Make-up offered women protection from the charge of unfemininity that participation in a male field could bring.60 Copeland has described Chiyo’s early works (prior to Confessions of Love) as ‘hackneyed, melodramatic, and generally redundant. Almost all deal with naïve young women who in a bold quest for freedom or financial success in the city (i.e., Tokyo), leave the confines of their country homes only to fall victim to poverty and abusive lovers’.61 Such stories are perhaps morality tales in a sense but also represented the aspirations towards urban glamour, and that the city was in reach for

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country girls, and Chiyo’s own life proved that it could be done, thus the morality element concealed a double message. Her autobiographical essay, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, explores her own feelings about her writing career. ‘I grew up as a child who wanted to go to the battlefields despite my sex: I aspired to be a kind, gentle nurse like Florence Nightingale or an officer as brave as Joan of Arc’.62 It is worth noting that these women were western models of womanhood. In 1936, Uno Chiyo founded Japan’s first fashion magazine, Sutairu, (the Japanese pronunciation of ‘style’), and two years later she started publishing Buntai (Literary Style). These magazines offered essays and translations of foreign literature as well as contributions by Japanese writers. For her readers, most of whom would have been hewing to expected boundaries, her introduction of the fashion magazine gave them a window to the possibilities of self-projection. Perhaps having grown up in a rural area, she recognised the desire for women not at the centre of urban modernity to have access to it through media. As a child, Chiyo had read magazines and newspapers – forbidden by her father – in secret. They ‘serialised modern stories such as “One’s Own Sin” or “A Bride’s Abyss”. I didn’t quite understand what these stories were about, but the mystery of the adult world swelled in my imagination like a dangerous boil’. Her fascination with scandal and the forbidden clearly never left her. My father died when I was sixteen . . . My father was not, in retrospect, like a character one would expect to find in Japanese fiction, but more like someone out of the novels of Balzac or Dostoevsky. I cried bitterly, but somehow I was happy at the same time, thinking that I could now do whatever I wanted.63 Chiyo’s father’s death was actually far more traumatic than she indicates here; he had apparently gone insane and stabbed himself in the street outside their house. She witnessed this. Of all the traumatic incidents in her life, she has made the least of this in her fiction. Perhaps because this was a tragedy that happened to her, rather than a scandalous event she had engineered. Her ambitions and promotion of ideals of independence are hard to maintain in the face of personal insecurity. Chiyo wrote, ‘I feel helpless

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even now, wondering how much longer I’ll continue this imitating’. Imitating others was both her genius and a trap: ‘My Mr. Strindberg, my Mr. Chekov, and my Mr. Schnitzler . . . I am thirty-eight years old, I’ve been writing for twelve years, and I don’t know who I really am’. In this light, Confessions of Love was just another imitation, adopting the style of another. Someday, when I am older, will I be able to get rid of this impulse, this wanting to be a ‘good wife,’ without feeling lost? Would I then be able to write my own story? I don’t wish not to be a woman, but I’d certainly like to be a woman whose sense of purpose comes from within.64 Chiyo had played these different roles: traditional Japanese woman (in kimono), wife, jokyu, star. In her explorations of different poses she challenged the boundaries of the definition of the Modern Woman: ‘the pose of the woman writer, it seems, was just as significant if not more so than the works she composed’.65 Although some of her stories seem slight, and to focus on small personal issues rather than broad social phenomena, Chiyo’s writing highlights the very issues of selfdefinition that many women faced. Donald Keene has summarised her as: ‘a minor writer in all respects but the most crucial, the quality of what she wrote, and on that basis she deserves a place among the three or four most important women writers of modern Japanese literature’.66 She serves as an example of the performativity of the idea of the Modern Woman, and through her example offered ways for Japanese society to reconsider female lives.

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CONCLUSION

In this book I have explored the work of women connected in a popular culture debate on the identity and role of the Modern Woman. By looking at women – some of whom have not been the focus of previous historians – and holding them in comparison with each other I have drawn out elements of commonality that demonstrate the existence of a ‘regional conversation’ on the nature of the Modern Woman. The issue of women and modernity has been the subject of much recent scholarship, some of it highlighting the ways in which women have been neglected by studies of (western) social modernity. The applicability of western theories of modernity to other regions of the world has also come into question. Much as Sophia Chen Zen struggled to define the Modern Woman in a Chinese context, the historiography on defining the Modern Woman is also problematic. While there are works dealing with her specific manifestations, such as the flapper or moga, particularly around her visual appeal, there are fewer works assessing who the Modern Woman is. Liz Conor looks at advertising and popular culture to show how the Modern Woman was presented, and conversely how women were being told they should look. Her Modern Woman is British, American or Australian; defining the term as limited to Englishspeaking westerners.1 Rita Felski points out that in much characterisation of modernity, women have been used as the site of the anti-modern, or of nostalgia. She argues against this, pointing to women’s role as consumers putting ‘femininity at the heart of the modern’, in a way that production and

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rationalisation did not.2 However, the idea of woman-as-consumer also included a perception of women as ‘buying machines’ driven by an impulse to shop beyond their control, and the idea of women as emotionally passive and subject to persuasion (such as that of advertising and the modern media).3 The figure of the flâneur as the emblem of modernity and the possibility of his having a female counterpart is also an ongoing debate. Kakie Urch has suggested that the necessities for flâneuserie are the ability to gaze, observe, to be ‘part of the crowded spectacle without being the object of desire or the desirer’.4 Janet Wolff has argued that Benjamin’s flâneur has no female counterpart: ‘the central figure of the flâneur in the literature of modernity can only be male’.5 As she asserts, the key writers on modernity (Baudelaire, Simmel, Benjamin et. al.) have equated ‘modern’ with ‘public’ and thus fail to describe women’s experience of modernity.6 Wolff, in common with other theorists of modernity, links it to the city. Priscilla Pankhurst Ferguson has also said that a woman cannot be a flâneur, as her gender makes her part of the urban drama being observed.8 If ‘a woman idling on the street is to be ‘consumed’ and ‘enjoyed’ along with the rest of the sights that the city affords’, she is the object, not the subject, of modernity.9 While histories examining the views of westerners towards women in Asia are useful, by focusing on women who actually lived in China and Japan it is possible to establish how these women represented local views that were influenced by their personal circumstances. Through their differing political stances, they offered alternative visions of what the Modern Woman should be and what they hoped in the future would be. In this way it is possible to assess the universality of feminist discourse of the period, and the ways in which it was reinterpreted subject to cultural and individual preferences. The choice on the part of some of these women to lay bare their own life choices in their writing means we can see how they were struggling to script the role for themselves. They did not know what happened when Nora left home, and in some cases validated Lu Xun’s view that a woman may well choose domesticity, if she has the freedom to make that choice.

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The changes in technology and social order during the 1920s and 1930s meant that this was a unique window for women to contribute to public discourse and attempt to define what their role in that discourse should be as well as how they should operate in a changing society. The doubts and fears about ‘modernity’ as a social force and its potential effects on women were most clearly articulated by Pearl Buck and Sophia Chen Zen. Their hesitations show the ways in which educated women were not automatically at the vanguard of feminist movements, and did not always share the confidence that their sisters should be given more liberty, if it came at the cost of some social protections. The women presented here were part of a unique generation, at a point when international travel (and international-mindedness) were on the rise, and before World War II and the Cold War ended this growing sense of transnational community. The opportunities for cultural exchange as a result of education abroad were just coming to fruition for Chinese and Japanese women, and westerners were developing a deeper interest in East Asian cultures. Education (and access to it) was a significant point from these women’s personal experience. Sophia Chen Zen studied in America, and commented on the differences in educational culture from what they experienced at home. Pearl Buck’s mother chose to send her to Randolph Macon precisely because it had the same course requirements as male colleges.10 That education itself may be a hollow promise, and not lead to fulfilment, is a recurring theme in her stories. I have addressed these women’s lives by examining such recurring themes, and relating their experiences to the work of histories of modernity and feminism. The themes of self-fashioning, independence and urban modernity are important as a reminder that there was no single definition of the Modern Woman. Self-fashioning became significant as it demonstrated women had the autonomy to create a unique identity. In the rise of print culture, this identity could be projected for the consumption of many others, and this leads into the notion of personal fame. Self-fashioning also meant defining one’s role in society and in personal relationships, including trying to negotiate marriage (or not) on one’s own terms.

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Woman’s independence is another key theme, and one of the problems with this was defining what this independence would mean. Both Pearl Buck and Sophia Chen Zen grappled with how to approach the mixed blessing that ‘independence’ could be when thrust upon a generation of Chinese women who had not been trained to be anything other than wives. Such independence could lead to the social atomisation of urban life as depicted in Uno Chiyo’s stories. The role of woman as experiencer of modernity, as urban flâneuse, was conveyed in the work of Uno Chiyo and Stella Benson. The jarring dislocation of life in the city and the puzzle of not having a preexisting template for the role of the single urban woman showed this to be another area under constant contest. Pearl Buck, Sophia Chen Zen and Lilian Miller felt cultural hybridity to be a badge of modernity. However, the challenges to forming a personal identity across languages and cultures left the risk, as Miller said, of ‘falling in the gaps between’. So too with the Modern Woman. As Tani Barlow has called ‘woman’ a catachrestic term in Chinese history, so is ‘Modern Woman’ or ‘modern girl’.11 When we hear these terms, in relation to the 1920s or 1930s, the image conjured may be of a Mary Pickford-esque gamine in a short skirt with a cigarette. All of the women considered here created their own interpretation of the image of the Modern Woman, in two layers: how they defined that image and how they performed it in their own lives. On the meaning of the New Woman, Louise Edwards has argued: ‘In China, although the term and the concept derived from the Japanese, European, and U.S. models, the new woman was a creature of the progressive, intellectual class’s political aspirations, and as a result, her utility for the feminist movement was limited’.12 This is debatable, depending on definitions of ‘utility’ and ‘feminist’. It also overlooks the importance of the aesthetic of the Modern Woman, which meant that she carried for observers their projections of modernity, regardless of what her intellectual godparents may have intended. The Modern Girl reflects the alienation of modernity and the search for self-identity.13 Does this make her a feminist model, or the dead end of the pursuit of liberty without any engagement with politics or

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society? Stevens links the Chinese modern girl and Japanese moga with the Gibson girl and the flapper.14 However, the Gibson girl, while an image of modernity, was hardly one of decadence. The middle-class, respectable Gibson girl stands in contrast to the later wild, hedonistic flapper, this change in England and America brought by World War I. The Gibson girl’s hyperfemininity included long hair, a large bust, small waist and broad hips (along with gathered skirts that emphasised the hourglass figure and concealed her legs). The flapper pursued an androgynous physique, short hair, and fashions that displayed her legs.15 As the object of others’ projections, the modern girl is either an introspective subject pursuing her own identity, or the object of male desires – the femme fatale.16 The fact is that the Modern Woman fulfilled – and was indeed defined to some degree by – an aesthetic; the other relevant sources are magazine and book illustrations, which both followed and led ideas of how the Modern Woman looked and behaved. Francesca Dal Lago has explored this idea in her study of the posture of women in Chinese posters, with the assertion that posing with crossed legs was a symbol of modernity.17 Chinese women were also creating their own genres of literature and addressing women’s issues, specifically for a female readership. Media aimed specifically at women proliferated at this time. This occurred during a time of massive expansion of the popular press, but the women’s press was a unique aspect of this. As Charlotte Beahan has argued, any Chinese periodical intended for women was, by its existence, revolutionary.18 Most of these publications were established by individuals or small groups, dependent on private funding, and did not last many issues. Taken as a whole however they form a distinct canon, and reflect the idea of the press – and representation in the press – as a badge of participation for women in the modern world. These magazines also used vernacular language rather than the ornate classical style favoured by traditional writers and those who dealt with traditional themes, such as the ‘Mandarin Duck and Butterfly’ school. Two theories of modernisation emerged: ‘women’s liberation’ and the ‘autonomous aesthetic’. These defined parameters for women’s issues and literary issues.19 Chinese women’s writing of the early twentieth century has been assessed within this context. Wendy Larsen

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has suggested, ‘While Western imperialism and its modern cultural notions of individual freedom and choice became the absolute context and perhaps instigator of this debate, or became considered the standard against which Chinese society must be judged, certain crucial areas, such as the critique of chastity, the Chinese family, and heterosexual marriage were specific to traditional discourse’.20 As Nancy Armstrong has argued, feminists writing about Ming and Qing women face difficulties because the cultural assumptions that make them feminists differ from those shaping their primary materials.21 The same could be applied to western women observing and commenting on life in China in the twentieth century, as we have seen. A further complication is that if those materials are from treaty ports, they are not necessarily very representative anyway. How reflective life in cities like Shanghai was of Chinese culture at large has been questioned by E. Perry Link, in arguing out that ‘as seen from inland towns and cities, the foreign concessions were themselves a half-step into the curious outside world, almost as extraterrestrial as extraterritorial’.22 Nonetheless, the modernity of the treaty ports was what outsiders saw as ‘China’s’ modernity, and served as a magnet for people elsewhere in the country seeking work in the big city. In China, nation creation and the struggle for new gender identities occurred simultaneously, wrapping the tensions of womanhood in the tensions of creating a modern nation.23 The conservative view presented ideal women as mothers of the nation, who would contribute genes and nurturing to future citizens.24 This eugenic idea was one taken up through the twentieth century by various states, most obviously National Socialist Germany and the USSR. According to Wendy Larson, in modernising nations everywhere, women’s education and culture came to stand for the health and strength of the nation – simultaneously, traditional literature was attacked by demands of ‘art for art’s sake and the rejection of previous contexts of morality or religion’.25 Larson also uses Gregory Jusdanis’ theory of ‘belatedness’ and applies this to China. He suggests that there exists a tension: within the ‘desire to catch up with advanced countries, people must both modernise and protect their ethnic culture from a modernisation so deep that a sense of nationality disappears’.26

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This approach, which made China simultaneously backwards and timeless, is considered by Johannes Fabian in his ideas on the ‘denial of coevalness’ on the part of anthropological observers. The observed, in this case China, is placed in a time other than the present of the observer.27 The motives for distancing from the observed are clear if not always conscious: the observer can remain that, an observer reporting on a moving tableau rather than participating in the host society (whom the observer may consider beneath his or her interaction). Sebastian Conrad has taken on this discussion with regard to Asian historiography, with the question ‘What time is Japan?’28 This temporal difference complicates the idea of the Modern Woman with different national concepts of modernity. The broader discussion of where and when to situate Asian modernity has grown in recent scholarship. Alexander Woodside’s Lost Modernities, for example, examines the role of government by Mandarinacy and the meritocracy of civil service examinations to illustrate the ideas that are associated with social modernity were operating in East Asia before industrialisation, and before they were in the west.29 Women who had lived in both east and west often considered themselves to be cultural hybrids, and found themselves in a position of negotiating two sets of values and debating their relative merits for women. Further, for Asian women who had lived or studied abroad, there was a sense of responsibility to prescribe to their fellow countrywomen the best path to take, based on their personal experiences. To the extent that each of these women was a signifier of a particular western, modern identity, for an (imagined) Asian audience, we see a diversity of their approaches. Pearl Buck put herself in the position of instructor and prescriptivist for Chinese women, and then subverted her authority position by presenting herself as ‘Asian’ in her recounting of her encounters with the USA. She framed it as an arrival rather than a return, and commented on the shortcomings of American society as though an outsider. However, this stance is again undercut by the nature of the readership of such writings: published in English, this is a reversal, and a deliberate use of her white, American identity in order to write such a critique. Stella Benson wrote not for Asian readers, but of them (as an observer), and living in more remote parts of China, served as her

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own model. The intensity of her diary writing and self-reflection demonstrates her loneliness but also her development of an idiosyncratic philosophy. Her desire to maintain a presence in literary discourse in Britain shows her perception of an international public sphere. Lilian Miller attempted to transgress her social position and identity in her performance both of Japaneseness and masculinity. To the extent that she placed herself in Japanese society, and Japanese cultural practices, her behaviour also constituted a rebellion against the appropriate practices for a Japanese woman, and was therefore a trading on her white status to operate outside the cultural expectations of Japan. Likewise, in America, she traded on a performed exoticism to again step outside culturally coded behaviour for a white woman of her social status. Caroline McMahon was posted specifically to be an observer of the Japanese. Her work is subtly analytic of Japanese society, particularly of gender practices. In her position as an American employee, she – as a spinster – appeared to be operating outside the expectations of both the Japanese and to some degree the American community. As a single woman, she sidestepped social boundaries to make acute observations of Japanese life. Uno Chiyo experimented with different female roles in her own life, as well as the modern notion of celebrity. By creating her own image, she demonstrated possibilities for female empowerment, while still playing up to cultural expectations of gender roles. In this manner, she was able to live life on her own terms while benefiting from social codes. These women were experimenting with gender performance, in environments in which they did not fulfil the definitional category of feminine (a destabilised concept at the best of times, but still one which was appealed to in national identity and socially coded expectations). Physically, racially, behaviourally, they did not conform to the feminine in Asian society. And yet for a western audience, they were performing in many ways the quintessential femininities: loyal wives, in Benson and Buck’s cases; decorative females and practitioners of ‘feminine’ art for Miller and Uno Chiyo; and the ‘working girl’ in the office for McMahon. This fractured female identity that had

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arisen in the twentieth century required a more deliberate performing of gender to conform. It is this subjectivity that creates a space for self-expression, but demands a reflexive performance that appeals to some external gender norms. Whether performing conformity or performing transgression, the inescapability of cultural conditioning is evident. Through residence in an alien environment, in which there was no option to truly be absorbed, these women were consciously performing against the society by which they were surrounded. The self can only be created in the face of an Other, and for white women in Asia, they were confronted by the other Other, that of Asian womanhood.30 The Oriental woman, the ‘other’s other’, is a particularly destabilising figure because of what remains hidden.31 However, for them this Other was perhaps less other than to the masculine observers who saw Asian gender as plastic, and the nonwhite female as at a further degree removed. As Madeleine Dobie has pointed out in her study of French Orientalism, ‘western representations have not only “feminized” the Orient but also “Orientalized” the feminine; that is to say, the foreignness ascribed to Oriental woman can be read as a displaced representation of all of the forms of “otherness” ascribed to women in western culture’.32 The women I depict here all attempted to transcend these cultural barriers to mutual acknowledgment between western and Asian women. Anne McClintock’s suggestion that gender, race and class ‘come into existence in and through relation to each other – if in contradictory and conflictual ways’ is particularly relevant. In this sense, gender, race and class can be called articulated categories.33 For guidance in the creation of gendered modernity, it was to women of other cultures rather than men of her own that the Modern Woman looked. Along with the abstract ideas of independence and fame was the more concrete discussion of women’s economic role, and the need for financial independence. All these women worked, in various ways, but the level to which they were economically self-sufficient differed. The tension of a woman’s chosen role versus socially acceptable roles for women, in terms of education and career, demonstrated the conflicts of modernity. They variously mused at length on the nature of marriage, the desirability or otherwise of the nuclear family and what

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women were escaping to (or from) when avoiding marriage. Because the women I examine did not just discuss this in the abstract, what they were saying was not just ‘this is what women should do’ but ‘this is what I should do’. In Asia and the Pacific, the period covered by this book was a specific phase in this international relationship of female modernity. The suffrage movement had generated broader feminist goals internationally. However, the difficulties of travel and communication led to the sense that women in Asia and the Pacific were disenfranchised from the conversation, which tended to be based in Europe or the East Coast of North America. This prompted feminists in Asia as well as those in Australia, New Zealand and on the West Coast of the United States to position their interests in the Pacific, marked by the establishment of the Pan Pacific Women’s Association. That this was a unique phase, ending in World War II, can be seen in the idea of the ‘Pacific World’ more generally.34 As Elspeth Probyn has written of belonging and identity, ‘the desire that individuals have to belong, a tenacious and fragile desire that is, I think, increasingly performed in the knowledge of the impossibility of ever really and truly belonging, along with the fear that the stability of belonging and the sanctity of belonging are forever past’.35 For these women, in a rapidly changing modern world, the desire to belong – to their gender, to their region, and to an international conversation – is clear in their expressions of female identity.

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NOTES

Introduction 1. Jane Addams, Democracy and Social Ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1902). 2. Jane Addams, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil (New York: Macmillan, 1912). 3. Thomas J. McMahon, ‘Modern Japan: A Progressive People’, Inter-Ocean, September 1923. 4. J. H. Boeke, ‘The Recoil of Westernization in the East’, Pacific Affairs 9, no. 3 (1936), p.333. 5. Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992). 6. Whitney Chadwick and Tirza True Latimer, ‘Becoming Modern: Gender and Sexual Identity after World War I’, in The Modern Woman Revisited: Paris between the Wars, eds. Whitney Chadwick and Tirza True Latimer (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), p.3. 7. Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865–1915 (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), p.3. 8. Jo Vellacott, ‘A Place for Pacifism and Transnationalism in Feminist Theory: The Early Work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’, Women’s History Review 2, no. 1 (1993). See also Leila J. Rupp, ‘Constructing Internationalism: The Case of Transnational Women’s Organizations, 1888–1945’, American Historical Review 99, no. 5 (1994). 9. Alan Lester, Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth Century South Africa and Britain (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), Kirsten McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies: Sydney and Cape Town, 1800–1850 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2004); see also David Lambert and

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10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29.

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Alan Lester, eds., Colonial Lives across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). T. N. Harper, ‘Globalism and the Pursuit of Authenticity: The Making of a Diasporic Public Sphere in Singapore’, Sojourn 12, no. 2 (1997), p.264. Peter O’Connor, ‘Endgame: The English-Language Press Networks of East Asia in the Run-up to War, 1936–1941’, Japan Forum 13, no. 1 (2001). Guenther Stein, ‘Through the Eyes of a Japanese Newspaper Reader’, Pacific Affairs 9, no. 2 (1936). Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (London: Virago, 1985), p.13. Linda Dowling, ‘The Decadent and the New Woman in the 1890’s’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction 33, no. 4 (1979), p.435. Janet Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flâneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity’, Theory, Culture & Society 2, no. 3 (1985), p.37. Rita Felski, The Gender of Modernity (Cambridge, MA. and London: Harvard University Press, 1995). Leo Ou-Fan Lee, Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China 1930–1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999). Charlotte Beahan, ‘Feminism and Nationalism in the Chinese Women’s Press, 1902–1911’, p.387 Chen Xie-fen, 1903, quoted in Charlotte Beahan, ‘Feminism and Nationalism in the Chinese Women’s Press, 1902–1911’, p.392. Chen Xiefen, ‘Crisis in the Women’s World (1904)’, in Writing Women in Modern China, ed. Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p.84. Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson, eds., Writing Women in Modern China, p.7. Chen Xiefen, ‘Crisis in the Women’s World (1904)’, p.86. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’, Pacific Affairs 2, no. 1 (1929), p.13. Chen Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’, p.15. Wilson, Adorned in Dreams, p.14. Wilson, Adorned in Dreams, p.12. Patricia Laurence, Lily Briscoe’s Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism, and China (University of South Carolina Press, 2003), p.3. Lingchei Letty Chen, ‘Reading between Chinese Modernism and Modernity: A Methodological Reflection’, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) 24 (2002), p.176. Katrina Gulliver, ‘Shanghai’s Modernity in the Western Eye’, East-West Connections Vol. 9, No. 1, (2009), pp.120–145.

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30. Leo Ou-Fan Lee, Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China 1930–1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p.3. 31. Xiaobing Tang, Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian (Durham, NC & London: Duke University Press, 2000), p.99. 32. Xiaobing, Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian, p.99. 33. Gail Hershatter, Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution and Modernity in TwentiethCentury Shanghai (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p.28. 34. Hershatter, Dangerous Pleasures, p.7. 35. Hershatter, Dangerous Pleasures, p.4. 36. Sarah E. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity: The New Woman and the Modern Girl in Republican China’, NWSA Journal 15, no. 3 (2003). 37. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.82. 38. Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth-Century China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), Dorothy Ko, JaHyun Kim Haboush, and Joan R. Piggott, eds., Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 39. Dorothy Ko, Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). 40. Wang Ping, Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), p.7. 41. Dorothy Ko, Every Step a Lotus (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p.10. 42. Martha Huang, ‘A Woman Has So Many Parts to Her Body, Life Is Very Hard Indeed’, in China Chic: East Meets West, ed. Valerie Steele and John S. Major (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1999), p.133. 43. Huang, ‘A Woman Has So Many Parts to Her Body, Life Is Very Hard Indeed’, p.134. 44. Shu-Mei Shih, ‘Gender, Race, and Semicolonialism: Liu Na’ou’s Urban Shanghai Landscape’, Journal of Asian Studies 55, no. 4 (1996), p.948. 45. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.83. 46. Lorna Price and Letitia O’Connor, eds., Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco (Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2001), p.32. 47. Donald Richie, A Hundred Years of Japanese Film (Tokyo, New York, London: Kodansha International, 2005), p.9. 48. Yuko Kikuchi, Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory (Oxford and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), p.77. 49. Kikuchi, Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory, p.77. 50. Kinza Riuge M. Hirai, ‘The Japanese Life and Customs as Contrasted with Those of the Western World (With the Treaty Question)’, Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York Vol. 26, (1894), p.142.

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51. Sharon H. Nolte and Sally Ann Hastings, ‘The Meiji State’s Policy toward Women, 1890–1910,’ in Recreating Japanese Women, 1600–1945, ed. Gail Lee Bernstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), p.151. 52. Vera Mackie, Feminism in Modern Japan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 53. Barbara Sato, The New Japanese Woman (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003), p.1. 54. Rita Felski, Women and Modernity. 55. Sato, The New Japanese Woman, p.7. 56. Sato, The New Japanese Woman, p.118. 57. Ulrike Wöhr, ‘Discourses on Media and Modernity: Criticism of Japanese Women’s Magazines in the 1920s and Early 1930s’, in Gender and Modernity: Rereading Japanese Women’s Magazines, ed. Ulrike Wöhr, Barbara Hamill Sato, and Suzuki Sadami (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 1998), p.18. 58. Janet Hunter, ‘Men and Women’, in The Making of Modern Japan: A Reader, ed. Tim Megarry (London: Greenwich University Press, 1995), p.472. 59. Edwin O. Reischauer, The Japanese Today (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 60. Harry Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p.17. 61. ‘Growth of Feminism in Japan’, Japan Chronicle, 26 February 1920, p. 245. 62. Edward Seidenstricker, Low City, High City (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), p.257. 63. Ian Buruma, Inventing Japan 1853–1964 (New York: Random House, 2003), p.67. 64. Fukuko Kobayashi, ‘Women Writers and Feminist Consciousness in Early Twentieth-Century Japan’ Feminist Issues 11 (1991), p.44. 65. Ian Buruma, Inventing Japan 1853–1964, p.66. 66. Takashi Hirano, ‘Retailing in Urban Japan, 1868–1945’, Urban History 26, no. 3 (1999), p.377. 67. Audrey Harris, Eastern Visas (London: Collins, 1939), p.57. 68. Takashi, ‘Retailing in Urban Japan, 1868–1945’, p.379. 69. Takashi, ‘Retailing in Urban Japan, 1868–1945’, p.380. 70. Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity, p.17. 71. Takashi, ‘Retailing in Urban Japan, 1868–1945’, p.379. 72. Takashi, ‘Retailing in Urban Japan, 1868–1945’, p.380. 73. Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (London: Penguin, 1988), pp.345–6. 74. Lesley Johnson, The Modern Girl: Girlhood and Growing Up (Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1993), p.27.

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75. Felski, Women and Modernity, p.2. 76. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble. (New York: Routledge, 2007), p.6.

Pearl Buck (1892–1973) 1. Pearl S. Buck, My Several Worlds: A Personal Record. (London: Methuen 1955), p.5. 2. In March 1927, KMT troops entered the city, and the city’s foreign population was particularly targeted. The British and Japanese Consulates came under special attack. Houses and businesses were looted, and between 30 and 40 people were killed. 3. Sheila Melvin, ‘The Resurrection of Pearl Buck’, The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2006. 4. John d’Entremont, ‘Pearl S. Buck and American Women’s History’, in The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck, ed. Elizabeth J. Lipscomb, Frances E. Webb, and Peter Conn, Contributions in Women’s Studies (Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1994), p.51. 5. Pearl S. Buck, ‘China and the West’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 168, American Policy in the Pacific, July (1933), pp. 118–131. 6. Karen J. Leong, The China Mystique: Pearl S. Buck, Anna May Wong, Mayling Soong, and the Transformation of American Orientalism (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005), p.14. 7. Buck, My Several Worlds, p.10. 8. Sheila Melvin, ‘The Resurrection of Pearl Buck’. 9. Pearl S. Buck, Of Men and Women (London: Methuen, 1942), p.3. 10. Buck., My Several Worlds, p.92. 11. Melvin, ‘The Resurrection of Pearl Buck’. 12. Leong, The China Mystique, p.13. 13. Quoted in Peter Conn, Pearl Buck: A Cultural Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.65. 14. Buck., My Several Worlds, p.146. 15. Charles S. Braden, ‘The Novelist Discovers the Orient’, Far Eastern Quarterly 7, no. 2 (1948), p.170. 16. Pearl S. Buck, ‘China and the West’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 168, American Policy in the Pacific (1933), p.118. 17. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth (London: Methuen, 1987), p.6. 18. Buck, The Good Earth, p.10. 19. Buck, The Good Earth, p.11. 20. Buck, The Good Earth, p.17. 21. Buck, The Good Earth, p.18. 22. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, p.19. 23. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, p.140.

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24. Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, p.260. 25. Michael H. Hunt, ‘Pearl Buck – Popular Expert on China, 1931–1949’, Modern China 3, no. 1 (1977), p.33. 26. Nancy Wilder, ‘The Exile’s Daughter: A Biography of Pearl S. Buck [Review]’, Far Eastern Survey 14, no. 4 (1945). 27. Hunt, ‘Pearl Buck – Popular Expert on China, 1931–1949’, p.37. 28. Kiang Kang-Hu, ‘A Chinese Scholar’s View of Mrs Buck’s Novels’, New York Times, 15 January 1933. 29. Pearl S. Buck, ‘Mrs. Buck Replies to Her Chinese Critic’, New York Times, 15 January 1933. 30. Phyllis Bentley, ‘The Art of Pearl S. Buck’, The English Journal 24, no. 10 (1935), p.792. 31. Blake Allmendinger, ‘Little House on the Rice Paddy’, American Literary History 10, no. 2 (1998), p.369. 32. Allmendinger, ‘Little House on the Rice Paddy’, p.362. 33. Allmendinger, ‘Little House on the Rice Paddy’, p.370. 34. Allmendinger, ‘Little House on the Rice Paddy’, p.367. 35. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘The Good Earth [review]’, Pacific Affairs Vol. 4, no. 10, (1931). 36. Pearl S. Buck. Of Men and Women. Methuen, London. (1942), p.15. 37. Buck, Of Men and Women, v. 38. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.5. 39. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.6. 40. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.4. 41. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.3. 42. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.2. 43. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.3. 44. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.6. 45. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.10. 46. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.15. 47. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.19. 48. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.16. 49. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.15. 50. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.22. 51. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.103. 52. Buck, Of Men and Women, p.108. 53. Jane M. Rabb, ‘Who’s Afraid of Pearl S. Buck?’ in The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck, ed. Elizabeth J. Lipscomb, Frances E. Webb, and Peter Conn, Contributions in Women’s Studies (Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1994), p.103.

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54. Penny Russell, ‘Wife Stories: Narrating Marriage and Self in the Life of Jane Franklin’, Victorian Studies 48, no. 1 (2005). 55. John d’Entremont, ‘Pearl S. Buck and American Women’s History’, in The Several Worlds of Pearl S. Buck, p.51. 56. Leong, The China Mystique, p.25. 57. Pearl S. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, Pacific Affairs 4, no. 10, October, (1931), p.905. 58. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.906. 59. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.907. 60. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.907. 61. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.908. 62. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.909. 63. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.907. 64. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’, p.909. 65. Xiongya Gao, Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese Women Characters (London: Associated University Presses, 2000), p.46. 66. Pearl S. Buck, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks - I’, Asia (1924), p.304. 67. Xiongya, Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese Women Characters, p.44. 68. Buck, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks - I’, p.308. 69. Buck, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks - I’, p.308. 70. Xiongya, Pearl S. Buck’s Chinese Women Characters, p.47. 71. Buck, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks - I’, Asia (1924), p.413. 72. Buck, ‘A Chinese Woman Speaks - I’, p.418. 73. Pearl S. Buck, ‘The First Wife’, Asia XXXI (1931), p.747. 74. Buck, ‘The First Wife’, p.748. 75. Conn, Pearl Buck: A Cultural Biography, p.157. 76. Buck, ‘The First Wife’, p.748. 77. Buck, ‘The First Wife’, p.749. 78. Pearl S. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, Asia XXXII (1932), p.51. 79. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.50. 80. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.50. 81. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.53. 82. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.55. 83. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.55. 84. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.55. 85. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.55. 86. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.55. 87. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.56. 88. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.58. 89. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.58.

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NOTES 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101.

165

Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.59. Buck, ‘Chinese Women: Their Predicament in the China of Today’. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.59. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.60. Buck, ‘The First Wife - Part II’, p.60. Pearl S. Buck, ‘China in the Mirror of Her Fiction’, Pacific Affairs 3, no. 2 (1930), p.155. Buck, ‘China in the Mirror of Her Fiction’, p.155. Buck, ‘China in the Mirror of Her Fiction’, p.157. Buck, ‘China in the Mirror of Her Fiction’, p.162. Kang Liao, Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge across the Pacific (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997), p.5. Pearl S. Buck, ‘China and the West’, p.119. Robert Hughes, American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America (New York: Knopf, 1999).

Stella Benson (1892–1933) 1. Joy Grant, Stella Benson: A Biography (London: Macmillan, 1987), p.18. 2. Stella Benson, ‘Stella Benson Diaries’, Friday, 12 November 1926 (Cambridge University Library). 3. Phyllis Bottome, Stella Benson (San Francisco: A. M. Bender, 1934). 4. Benson, diary, Sunday, 9 January 1927. 5. Benson, diary, Sunday, 9 January 1927. 6. Stella Benson, This Is the End (1917). 7. Benson, diary, Tuesday, 16 September 1930. 8. Benson, diary, Wednesday 31 January 1923. 9. R. Meredith Bedell, Stella Benson (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1983), p.9. 10. Benson, diary, Sunday, 24 September 1933. 11. Benson, diary, Monday, 8 February 1926. 12. Benson, diary, 15 August, 1922. 13. Benson, diaries, 1921 passim; 19 June 1922. 14. Benson, diary, Wednesday, 16 February 1927. 15. Joy Grant, Stella Benson: A Biography. p.43. 16. Stella Benson, I Pose (London: Macmillan and Co., 1915), p.14. 17. Benson, I Pose, p.15. 18. Benson, I Pose, p.16. 19. Benson, I Pose, p.17. 20. Benson, I Pose, p.22. 21. Benson, diary, 11 February 1920.

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22. Benson, diary, 9 November 1926. 23. Andrew Hassam, ‘“as I Write”: Narrative Occasions and the Quest for SelfPresence in the Travel Diary’, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 21, no. 4 (1990), p.33. 24. Harriet Blodgett, ed., The Englishwoman’s Diary: An Anthology (London: Fourth Estate, 1992), p.7. 25. Lynn Z. Bloom, ‘“I Write for Myself and Strangers”: Private Diaries as Public Documents’, in Inscribing the Daily: Critical Essays on Women’s Diaries, ed. Suzanne L. Bunkers and Cynthia A. Huff (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), p.23. 26. Stella Benson, ‘About My Books’, in Ten Contemporaries: Notes toward Their Definitive Biography, ed. John Gawsworth (London: Joiner and Steele Ltd, 1933), p.41. 27. Benson, diary, Friday, 29 August 1930. 28. Benson, diary, 31 December 1921. 29. Stella Benson, Twenty (London: Macmillan, 1918), p.21. 30. Benson, ‘About My Books’, p.39. 31. Quoted in Grant, Stella Benson: A Biography, p.xvi. 32. Benson, I Pose, p.139. 33. Benson, I Pose, p.144. 34. Benson, diary, Friday, 23 June 1922. 35. George Woodcock, The British in the Far East (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), p.204. 36. Benson, diary, Friday, 2 February 1923. 37. E.G., ‘Worlds within Worlds (Review)’, Pacific Affairs 2, no. 7 (1929). 38. Stella Benson, Worlds within Worlds (London: Macmillan, 1928), p.200. 39. L. G., ‘Two Oriental Travelogues’, Pacific Affairs 4, no. 9 (1931), p.831. 40. Stella Benson, Worlds within Worlds. 41. Robert Bickers, ‘Shanghailanders: The Formation and Identity of the British Settler Community in Shanghai, 1843–1937’, Past and Present, no. 159 (1998), p.185. 42. Grant, Stella Benson, p.56. 43. Grant, Stella Benson, p.57. 44. Grant, Stella Benson, p.59. 45. Grant, Stella Benson, p.63. 46. Stella Benson, Living Alone (London: Macmillan, 1920). 47. Benson, Living Alone, p.1. 48. Madeline Rooff, A Hundred Years of Family Welfare (London: Michael Joseph, 1972), p.56. 49. Rooff, A Hundred Years of Family Welfare, p.61.

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50. Benson, diary, Tuesday, 9 December, 1930. 51. Susanna Hoe, Chinese Footprints: Exploring Women’s History in China, Hong Kong and Macau (Hong Kong: Roundhouse Publications, 1996), p.186. 52. Benson, Worlds within Worlds, p.6. 53. Ono Kazuko, Chinese Women in a Century of Revolution, 1850–1950 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989), p.28. 54. Charlotte Beahan, ‘Feminism and Nationalism in the Chinese Women’s Press, 1902–1911’, p.380. 55. Bedell, Stella Benson, p.8. 56. Benson, diary, 25 July, 1933. 57. Carole G. Silver, Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p.185. 58. Jenny Hazelgrove, Spiritualism and British Society between the Wars, ed. Prof. Jeffrey Richards, Studies in Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000). 59. In 1917, in Cottingley, Yorkshire, Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffiths, aged 16 and 10, took photographs of themselves with fairies. The photos (which were examined by experts and did not appear to have been doctored or faked, although Kodak refused to verify them) were first publicised in the Strand magazine in 1920. They were immediately popular and controversial. Although in the 1980s the women admitted the hoax (pinning up illustrations of fairies cut out from books, and then photographing them), the Cottingley photos and the interest they generated are still discussed. 60. Carole G. Silver, Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness, p.189. 61. Joseph Collins, The Doctor Looks at Literature: Psychological Studies of Life and Letters (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1923), p.181. 62. Collins, The Doctor Looks at Literature, p.182. 63. Benson, Living Alone. 64. Katherine Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature (London: Bellew, 1989), p.197. 65. Benson, diary, Wednesday, 16 February 1927. 66. Grant, Stella Benson, xv. 67. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 2006).

Sophia Chen Zen (1890–1976) 1. She married H. C. Zen, a chemist with a BA and MA from Cornell. He was the first president of the Science Society of China.

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2. Howard L. Boorman, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, 4 vols. (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1967), p.183; Li Yu-ning, ed., Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992), p.59. 3. Linqing Yao, ‘The Chinese Overseas Students: An Overview of the Flows Change’, in 12th Biennial Conference of the Australian Population Association (Canberra: 2004). 4. Weili Ye, ‘“Nü Liuxuesheng”: The Story of American-Educated Chinese Women, 1880s-1920s’, Modern China 20, no. 3 (1994), p.342. 5. Weili Ye, ‘“Nü Liuxuesheng’”, p.315. 6. Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson, eds., Writing Women in Modern China, p.88. 7. Boorman, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, p.185. 8. Akiko Kuno, Unexpected Destinations: The Poignant Story of Japan’s First Vassar Graduate, trans. Kirsten McIvor (Tokyo, New York & London: Kodansha International, 1993). 9. Dooling and Torgeson, eds., Writing Women in Modern China, p.88. 10. Hu Shih, ‘The Chinese Renaissance, Lecture Series Delivered at the University of Chicago as the Haskell Lecturer’, in VI. SOCIAL DISINTEGRATION AND READJUSTMENT (1933). 11. Marquis W. Childs, ‘Hu Shih: Sage of Modern China’, The Atlantic Monthly 166, no. 4 (1940), p.426. 12. Quoted in Jerome B. Grieder, Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), p.82. 13. Boorman, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, p.185. 14. Janet Ng, The Experience of Modernity: Chinese Autobiography of the Early Twentieth Century (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), p.23. 15. Ch’en Heng-Che (Sophia Chen Zen), ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, in May Fourth Women Writers: Memoirs, ed. Janet Ng and Janice Wickeri (Hong Kong: Renditions 1996), p.10. 16. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘One Day (1917)’, in Writing Women in Modern China, ed. Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p.91. 17. Zen, ‘One Day (1917)’, p.92. 18. Zen, ‘One Day (1917)’, p.94. 19. James Monroe Taylor and Elizabeth Hazelton Haight, Vassar (New York: Oxford University Press, 1915). 20. Zen, ‘One Day (1917)’, p.96. 21. Zen, ‘One Day (1917)’, p.97. 22. Ng, The Experience of Modernity, p.21.

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23. ‘Chinese Woman on Vassar Honor List’, Reno Evening Gazette, Tuesday, 25 February 1919, p.8. 24. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’, Pacific Affairs 2, no. 1 (1929). 25. Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’. 26. Vera Schwarcz, The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 (Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press, 1986), p.108. 27. Sophia H. Chen Zen, ed., Symposium on Chinese Culture (Shanghai: China Institute of Pacific Relations, 1931). 28. P. S. Tseng, ‘The Chinese Woman Past and Present’, in Symposium on Chinese Culture, ed. Sophia H. Chen Zen (Shanghai: China Institute of Pacific Relations, 1931), p.285. Miss Tseng is listed as the Founder and Principal, I-Fang Girls’ School, Chansha. 29. Tseng, ‘The Chinese Woman Past and Present’, p.289. 30. Tseng, ‘The Chinese Woman Past and Present’, p.292. 31. ‘American “Movie” Culture Has Harmful Effect on Social Life of Young China, Speaker Says’, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 October 1933. 32. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, Pacific Affairs 4, no. 12 (1931), p.1075. 33. Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’. 34. Zen, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’. 35. Ch’en Heng-che (Sophia Chen Zen), ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures on the Chinese Woman (1934)’, in Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes, ed. Li Yu-ning (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992), p.70. 36. Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, p.1071. 37. Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, p.1071. 38. Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, p.1075. 39. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.61. 40. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.61. 41. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.62. 42. Henrietta Harrison, The Making of the Republican Citizen: Political Ceremonies and Symbols in China, 1911–1929 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p.61. 43. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.64. 44. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.65. 45. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.66. 46. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.66. 47. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.67. 48. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.70.

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170 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

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Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, p.1079. Zen, ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures’, p.70. Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.36. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.37. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.38. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.42. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.44. Zen, ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, p.45. Boorman, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China, p.186.

Caroline Bache McMahon (1899–1950) 1. Peggy Preston, ‘Carol Bache Wrote Same Book Twice; First Draft Burned on Corregidor’, Washington Post, Monday 6 March 1944. 2. Carol Bache, Paradox Isle. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943), p.3. 3. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.4. 4. Burton Crane, ‘Personal View of the Sons of Heaven’, New York Times, 19 December 1943. 5. Bache, Paradox Isle. 6. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.165. 7. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.11. 8. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.11. 9. Melanie Czarnecki, ‘Bad Girls from Good Families: The Degenerate Meiji Schoolgirl’, in Bad Girls of Japan, ed. Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), p.50. 10. Czarnecki, ‘Bad Girls from Good Families, p.50. 11. Miyako Inoue, ‘The Listening Subject of Japanese Modernity and His Auditory Double: Citing, Sighting, and Siting the Modern Japanese Woman’, Cultural Anthropology 18, no. 2 (2003). 12. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.68. 13. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.108. 14. Gennifer Weisenfeld, ‘Touring Japan-as-Museum: Nippon and Other Japanese Imperialist Travelogues’, positions: east asia cultures critique 8, no. 3 (2000). 15. Weisenfeld, ‘Touring Japan-as-Museum’, p.749. 16. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.151. 17. Princess Chichibu, The Silver Drum, trans. Dorothy Britton (London: Global Oriental, 2007). 18. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.19. 19. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.22.

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NOTES 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

39. 40. 41. 42.

171

Bache, Paradox Isle, p.23. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.23. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.24. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.65. A Woman, Japan Weekly Chronicle, 30 January 1919, p.168. Editorial, Japan Chronicle, 30 January 1919, p.148. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.148. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.147. Elise K. Tipton, ‘Pink Collar Work: The Café Waitress in Early Twentieth Century Japan’, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 7, (2002), p.143. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.155. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.114. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.49. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.56. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.58. Bache, Paradox Isle, p.59. Paul Gordon Schalow, ‘Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700–1820 [Review]’, Journal of Japanese Studies 26, no. 2 (2000). Timon Screech, Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan 1700–1820 (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), p.14 Screech, Sex and the Floating World. This is presumably a reference to Hugh Byas, a British journalist based in Japan (he was correspondent for the London Times and the New York Times), whose books were published in the USA by Alfred A. Knopf. Harold Strauss, correspondence, 28 October 1942, Knopf archives. E. M. Morison, Manuscript Report on Paradox Isle, 22 April 1943, Knopf archives. Preston, ‘Carol Bache Wrote Same Book Twice’. Caroline McMahon, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation application, 1945.

Lilian May Miller (1895–1943) 1. Gretchen Smith, ‘American Girl, Born in Japan, Gains Fame in Eastern Art’, The Evening Star, Thursday, 21 November 1929. 2. Kendall H. Brown, ‘Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan’, Impressions 27 (2005/2006), p.82. 3. Kendall H. Brown, Between Two Worlds: The Life and Art of Lilian May Miller (Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 1998), p.23.

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4. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.13. 5. David Bate, ‘The Occidental Tourist: Photography and the Colonizing Vision’, Afterimage 20, no. 1 (1992), p.12. 6. Rebecca Salter, Japanese Woodblock Printing (London: A & C Black, 2001).p.11 7. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.9. 8. Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (London: Routledge, 1996). 9. Lewis, Gendering Orientalism, p.44. 10. Salter, Japanese Woodblock Printing, p.12. 11. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.11. 12. Joan M. Jensen, ‘Women on the Pacific Rim: Some Thoughts on Border Crossings’, Pacific Historical Review 67, no. 1 (1998), p.13. 13. Greg Dening, ‘Europe “Discovers” the “Pacific’’’, in Implicit Understandings, ed. Stuart B. Schwartz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p.470, 14. Alys Eve Weinbaum, ‘Racial Masquerade: Consumption and Contestation of American Modernity’ in A. E. Weinbaum, L. M. Thomas, P. Ramamurthy, U. G. Poiger, M. Y. Dong, & T. E. Barlow (eds.), Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, Globalization, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), p. 128. 15. Richard Serrano, Neither a Borrower: Forging Traditions in French, Chinese and Arabic Poetry (Oxford: Legenda, 2002). 16. James O. Young, ‘Should White Men Play the Blues?’ Journal of Value Enquiry 28, no. 3 (1994), pp.415–424. 17. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.13. 18. Quoted in Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.47. 19. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.47. 20. Smith, ‘American Girl’. 21. Smith, ‘American Girl’. 22. Smith, ‘American Girl’. 23. Smith, ‘American Girl’. 24. Smith, ‘American Girl’. 25. Lilian May Miller, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden (Tokyo: Japan Advertiser Press, 1927), p.12. 26. Miller, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden, p.55. 27. Miller, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden, p.68. 28. Miller, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden, p.86. 29. Miller, Grass Blades from a Cinnamon Garden, p.73. 30. ‘Three Artists Who Transcend the Bounds of East and West’, Asia XXXI (1931).

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31. Lilian Miller, ‘An American Girl and the Japanese Print’, Vassar Quarterly, May 1932, p.120. 32. Miller, ‘An American Girl and the Japanese Print’, p.120. 33. Miller, ‘An American Girl and the Japanese Print’, p.123. 34. Miller, ‘An American Girl and the Japanese Print’, p.123. 35. Brown, ‘Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan’, p.81. 36. Brown, ‘Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan’, p.93. 37. Brown, ‘Lilian Miller: An American Artist in Japan’, p.82. 38. Laura Doan, ‘Passing Fashions: Reading Female Masculinities in the 1920s’, Feminist Studies 24, no. 3 (1998), p.665. 39. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, vol. 2: Sexchanges (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p.327. 40. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.12. 41. Brown, Between Two Worlds, p.57. 42. Miller, ‘An American Girl and the Japanese Print’, p.123. 43. Alys Eve Weinbaum, ‘Racial Masquerade: Consumption and Contestation of American Modernity’, p. 124.

Uno Chiyo (1897–1996) 1. Ian Buruma, Inventing Japan 1853–1964, Modern Library Chronicles (New York: Random House, 2003), p.68 2. Joan E. Ericson, ‘The Origins of the Concept of “Women’s Literature”’ in Paul Gordon Schalow and Janet A. Walker, eds., The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), pp. 74–115, p.91. 3. Ericson, ‘The Origins of the Concept of “Women’s Literature”’, p.90. 4. Rebecca L. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind: The Life and Works of Uno Chiyo (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993), p.8. 5. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.9. 6. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.10. 7. Elise Tipton, ‘Sex in the City: Chastity vs Free Love in Interwar Japan’, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 11 (2005). 8. Pauline C. Reich and Atsuko Fukuda, ‘Japan’s Literary Feminists: The “Seito” Group’, Signs 2, no. 1 (1976), p.284. 9. Quoted in Kobayashi, ‘Women Writers and Feminist Consciousness in Early Twentieth-Century Japan’, p.45. 10. Uno Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation (1936)’, in To Live and to Write: Selections by Japanese Women Writers, 1913–1938, ed. Yukiko Tanaka (Seattle: Seal Press, 1987), p.190.

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11. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation (1936)’, p.191. 12. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.12. 13. Rebecca L. Copeland and Uno Chiyo, ‘The Made-up Author: Writer as Woman in the Works of Uno Chiyo’, The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese 29, no. 1 (1995), p.5. 14. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.191. 15. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.13. 16. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.15. 17. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.192. 18. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.16. 19. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, New Yorker, 31 October 1988, p.44. 20. Copeland and Chiyo, ‘The Made-up Author’, p.4. 21. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.192. 22. Kendall H. Brown, ‘Flowers of Taisho: Images of Women in Japanese Society and Art, 1915–1935,’ in Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco, ed. Lorna Price and Letitia O’Connor (Honolulu, 2001), p.19. 23. Japan Weekly Chronicle, Kobe, 7 August 1919, p.205. 24. Sheldon Garon, ‘The World’s Oldest Debate? Prostitution and the State in Imperial Japan, 1900–1945’, American Historical Review 98, no. 3 (1993), p.727. 25. Elise K. Tipton, ‘Pink Collar Work: The Café Waitress in Early Twentieth Century Japan’, p.141. 26. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.192. 27. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.193. 28. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.193. 29. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.27. 30. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.194. 31. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.195. 32. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.195. 33. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.48. 34. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.48. 35. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.28. 36. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.195. 37. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.195. 38. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.49. 39. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.35. 40. ‘Doom of the Kimono’, Japan Weekly Chronicle, 4 July 1918, p.23. 41. Thomas J. McMahon, ‘Modern Japan: A Progressive People’. 42. Edward Seidenstricker, Tokyo Rising (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), p.35.

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NOTES 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66.

175

Brown, ‘Flowers of Taisho’, p.22. Brown, ‘Flowers of Taisho’, p.19. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.39. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.49. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.42. Japan Chronicle, 4 March 1920, p.258. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.42. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.39. Yukiko Tanaka, ed., To Live and to Write: Selections by Japanese Women Writers, 1913–1938, p.186. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.51. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.45. Phyllis I. Lyons, ‘Review: “Modern Girl”: The Shishôsetsu Revisited’, The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese 24, no. 2 (1990), p.222. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.54. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.56. Phyllis Birnbaum, ‘Modern Girl’, p.57. Donald Keene, Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984) p.1130. Copeland and Chiyo, ‘The Made-up Author’, p.11. Copeland and Chiyo, ‘The Made-up Author’, p.5. Copeland, The Sound of the Wind, p.31. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.189. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.190. Chiyo, ‘A Genius of Imitation’, p.196. Copeland and Chiyo, ‘The Made-up Author’, p.9. Donald Keene, Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era, p.1129.

Conclusion 1. Liz Conor, The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004). 2. Rita Felski, The Gender of Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995). 3. Felski, The Gender of Modernity. 4. Kakie Urch, ‘The [Em] Space of Modernism and the Possibility of Flâneuserie’, in Modernism, Gender, and Culture, ed. Lisa Rado (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1997), p.24. 5. Janet Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flâneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity’, Theory, Culture & Society 2, no. 3 (1985), p.37.

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6. Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flâneusey’, p.37. 7. Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flâneuse’, p.37. 8. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, ‘The Flâneur on and Off the Streets of Paris’, in The Flâneur, ed. Keith Tester (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), p.28. 9. Ferguson, ‘The Flâneur on and Off the Streets of Paris’, p.28. 10. Buck, My Several Worlds, p.90. 11. Tani E. Barlow, The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism. (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004). 12. Louise Edwards, ‘Policing the Modern Woman in Republican China’, Modern China 26, no. 2 (2000), p.117. 13. Sarah E. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity: The New Woman and the Modern Girl in Republican China’, p.89. 14. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.90. 15. Kenneth A. Yellis, ‘Prosperity’s Child: Some Thoughts on the Flapper’, American Quarterly 21, no. 1 (1969). 16. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.92. 17. Francesca Dal Lago, ‘Crossed Legs in 1930s Shanghai: How ‘Modern’ the Modern Woman?’ East Asian History 19 (2000), pp.103–144. 18. Charlotte L. Beahan, ‘Feminism and Nationalism in the Chinese Women’s Press, 1902–1911’, Modern China 1, no. 4 (1975), p.379. 19. Wendy Larson, Women and Writing in Modern China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), p.1. 20. Larson, Women and Writing in Modern China, p.3. 21. Nancy Armstrong, ‘Chinese Women in a Comparative Perspective’, in Writing Women in Late Imperial China, ed. Ellen Widmer and Kang-i Sun Chang (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), p.407. 22. E. Perry Link, Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1981), p.132. 23. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.82. 24. Stevens, ‘Figuring Modernity’, p.82. 25. Larson, Women and Writing in Modern China, p.1. 26. Larson, Women and Writing in Modern China, p.18. 27. Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). 28. Sebastian Conrad, ‘What Time Is Japan? Problems of Comparative (Intercultural) Historiography ‘, History and Theory 38, no. 1 (1999). 29. Alexander Woodside, Lost Modernities (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2006). 30. For a discussion of this from a feminist perspective, see Judith Butler, ‘Giving an Account of Oneself’, Diacritics 31, no. 4, (2001), pp.22–40.

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NOTES

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31. Madeleine Dobie. Foreign Bodies: Gender, Language, and Culture in French Orientalism. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), p.61. 32. Dobie. Foreign Bodies, p.2. 33. Anne McClintock. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. (London: Routledge, 1995), p.4–5. 34. Katrina Gulliver, ‘Finding the Pacific World’, Journal of World History, 22, no. 1, (2011), pp.83–100 35. Elspeth Probyn, Outside Belongings. (New York: Routledge, 1996), p.8.

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Jo Vellacott, ‘A Place for Pacifism and Transnationalism in Feminist Theory: The Early Work of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’, Women’s History Review 2 (1993), 23–56. Alys Eve Weinbaum, ‘Racial Masquerade: Consumption and Contestation of American Modernity’ in Modern Girl Around the World: Consumption, Modernity, Globalization, eds. A. E. Weinbaum, L. M. Thomas, P. Ramamurthy, U. G. Poiger, M. Y. Dong, & T. E. Barlow, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 120–146. Gennifer Weisenfeld, ‘Touring Japan-as-Museum: Nippon and Other Japanese Imperialist Travelogues’, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 8 (2000), 747–793. Nancy Wilder, ‘The Exile’s Daughter: A Biography of Pearl S. Buck [Review]’, Far Eastern Survey 14 (1945), 52. Elizabeth Wilson, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (London: Virago, 1985). Ulrike Wöhr, ‘Discourses on Media and Modernity: Criticism of Japanese Women’s Magazines in the 1920s and Early 1930s’, in Gender and Modernity: Rereading Japanese Women’s Magazines, eds. Ulrike Wöhr, Barbara Hamill Sato and Suzuki Sadami: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 1998), 15–37. Janet Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flâneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity’, Theory, Culture & Society 2 (1985). George Woodcock, The British in the Far East (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969). Alexander Woodside, Lost Modernities (Boston: Harvard University Press, 2006). Linqing Yao, ‘The Chinese Overseas Students: An Overview of the Flows Change’, in 12th Biennial Conference of the Australian Population Association (Canberra, 2004). Weili Ye, ‘“Nü Liuxuesheng”: The Story of American-Educated Chinese Women, 1880s-1920s’, Modern China 20 (1994), 315–346. Kenneth A. Yellis, ‘Prosperity’s Child: Some Thoughts on the Flapper’, American Quarterly 21 (1969), 44–64. James O. Young, ‘Should White Men Play the Blues?’ Journal of Value Enquiry 28 (1994), 415–424. Sophia Chen Zen, ‘China’s Changing Culture’, Pacific Affairs 4 (1931), 1070–1081. ———, ‘One Day (1917)’, in Writing Women in Modern China, eds. Amy D. Dooling and Kristina M. Torgeson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 91–99. ———, ‘The Chinese Woman in a Modern World’, Pacific Affairs 2 (1929), 8–15. ———, ‘The Good Earth [Review]’, Pacific Affairs 4 (1931). Sophia H. Chen Zen, ed. Symposium on Chinese Culture (Shanghai: China Institute of Pacific Relations, 1931).

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BIBLIOGR APHY

187

Ch’en Heng-che (Sophia Chen Zen), ‘My Childhood Pursuit of Education (1937)’, in May Fourth Women Writers: Memoirs, eds. Janet Ng and Janice Wickeri (Hong Kong: Renditions 1996), 36–43. Ch’en Heng-che (Sophia Chen Zen), ‘The Influences of Foreign Cultures on the Chinese Woman (1934)’, in Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes, ed. Li Yu-ning (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992).

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INDEX

Addams, Jane 4 Anderson, Benedict 77 Asia (magazine) 5–6, 125 Atlantic Monthly 99 Butler, Judith 21 Charity Organisation Society 71 cities see urban life concubinage 4, 30, 45, 94 department stores 20–1 fame 6, 22, 25, 39, 132, 142, 150, 156 Felski, Rita 10, 18, 21, 148 feminism 5, 6–7, 11–12, 18, 21, 39, 41, 74, 133, 150–1, 153, 157 flâneuse 6, 56, 66, 149, 151 footbinding 14–15, 29, 34, 37, 46 Gilman, Charlotte Perkins 39 Goncourt brothers 65, 115 Hershatter, Gail 14 Hu Shi 80, 82, 86 Institute of Pacific Relations 4–5, 87

index.indd 188

Japan Advertiser 9 Japan Chronicle 8, 18, 19, 65, 105, 142 Kanto earthquake 19, 114, 139 kimono 109, 116, 120–1, 128, 140–1, 147 Ko, Dorothy 14–15 Lee, Leo Ou-Fan 11, 13–14 May Fourth Movement 9, 15, 80 missionaries 23, 24, 39, 73–4, 75, 92, 108, 111 Orientalism 15, 25, 114, 115, 117, 121, 126, 156 Pan Pacific Women’s Association 7, 157 prostitution 14, 72–73 public sphere 6, 8–9, 65, 101 Randolph-Macon Women’s College 23, 26, 150 Sato, Barbara Hamill 17–18 Shanghai 10–11, 13–14, 74

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INDEX The Good Earth 27–31, 33, 34, 39, 40, 53 Tokyo 19–20, 101, 135, 137 urban life 6, 14, 131, 149, 151 Vassar College 78, 79, 84, 113, 119, 125

189

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 5, 7–8 women’s suffrage movement 5, 7, 17, 22, 62, 72, 74, 157 woodblock prints 110, 116, 118, 119, 120, 125, 126 Woolf, Virginia 7, 70, 76, 128

waitresses 135–6, 141 Wolff, Janet 10, 149

index.indd 189

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index.indd 190

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1. The Slipper. Artist: Lilian May Miller.

2. Dwarf Pine Tree. Artist: Lilian May Miller. Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

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3. Rain Blossoms, Japan. Artist: Lilian May Miller. Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

4. Moonlight on Fujiyama, 1928. Artist: Lilian May Miller. Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

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5. Rainbow Phoenix Waterfall. Artist: Lilian May Miller. Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

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6. Nikko Gate. Artist: Lilian May Miller. Source: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, CA. Gift of Mrs. Simon Bolivar Buckner.

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