The Journal of Japanese Studies



Memoirs of the Orient

Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha--the fictionalized memoirs of a geisha set in the Gion district of Kyoto between the 1930s and 1950s--became a bestseller in the United States immediately following publication in 1997.  This essay examines two issues: what accounts for the mass popularity of Memoirs in the United States, and is either the text or the interest (in Japan/geisha) it spurs orientalist?  Commonly enjoyed by fans as a "trip to an exotic land" that is also "authentic" in its (re)presentation of Japan, the book is widely read as a fantasy, the essay argues, that engages readers in a world that is enticingly other.

Volume 27, Number 2 (Summer 2001)
2001 Society for Japanese Studies


Marie Anchordoguy and Kevin M. Doak, Coeditors     Martha L. Walsh, Managing Editor
The Journal of Japanese Studies
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